How to Select a Cane
There are a few fundamental factors to consider when assessing a particular cane. Again, a health care professional is the best resource for choosing the model that most completely meets your needs and personal preferences.
One of the main distinguishing features of a cane is the design of its tip. Standard one-tip canes may be just fine for someone looking for a little balance support, while an individual who must place a significant amount of weight on the cane might opt for a three- or four-tipped (quad) design. Be sure to keep tabs on the condition of your cane tip, and replace it if it’s become worn.
Cane Grip Options
Cane grips vary widely, from simple C- or T-shaped handles to ball-shaped grips and highly contoured braces. The grip may be padded or not. Test out several different kinds of handles in consultation with a physical therapist to ensure you’re purchasing a cane you can use comfortably and securely. An improper grip may strain your joints and can place you off-balance. Consider the strength of your own grasp when evaluating canes. Flat handles may be better for those with weaker hands.
You also want to select a cane that’s properly fitted to your height. With your arms hanging straight down at your sides, the top of the cane should ideally reach the base of your wrist. When grasping your cane, your elbow should be bent at a slight angle. Remember to size your cane wearing normal walking shoes so as to obtain the most accurate measurements. The height on some cane models can be adjusted.
Canes for Travel
If you’re a frequent traveler, investigate foldable or collapsible canes for the most efficient transport.
How to Walk with a Cane
A doctor or physical therapist can also help you identify and practice proper cane usageâ€”it’s a bit of an art.
Which hand should you hold your cane in? If the cane’s simply an aid for balance, it doesn’t particularly matter, although it’ll likely feel more natural to grip the cane with your dominant hand. If your cane will help with compensating for an injury or disability, you should hold it in the hand opposite the impaired leg.
If you’re using a quad cane, ensure that all four prongs are stabilized on the ground before you put weight on the cane.
The cane and your impaired leg should move forward in concert, and the unaffected leg brought forward past the cane for the successive step. Pivot for a turn on your unaffected leg.
How to Use a Cane on Stairs
Negotiating stairs using a cane demands special care. Use the railing for extra support. Ascending the staircase, step up with your unimpaired leg first and follow with the impaired leg and then your cane. Descending, place the cane on the lower stair and follow it with your impaired leg and then your unimpaired leg.
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