I usually just skim the advertisement pages of the newspaper, but the other day a story about a new type of cane caught my eye. I am familiar with canes, walkers, and wheelchairs after years working with seniors, but I have never seen anything like this. This particular cane looks like something out of the Bionic Man television series of old (www.TheHurryCane.com) and I liked what I saw. Canes have undoubtedly been around since humankind started walking upright, but designs incorporating technological advances are fairly new.
Many seniors use wheelchairs, walkers, or canes to help them get around. I was rather astounded to read that many of the falls that land seniors in the hospital are related to the use of mobility devices. How can this be? The very pieces of equipment that have been designed to offer support and stability are causing injury accidents.
- You probably already know the answer to that question. Canes and walkers are pretty common place but no matter how beautiful the design, if they don’t fit your special needs you become an accident waiting to happen. I’ve worked with many people using mobility devices and do you know what? The majority of them, especially those using them for what they see as short term, have borrowed them from friends, friends-of-friends or family member.
- Ideally a medical professional is the person to turn to for advice about mobility equipment. Unscrupulous venders or unknowing friends will try to save you a few dollars by saying that a cane is just a cane, a walker just a walker or a wheelchair just a wheelchair. Nothing can be further from the truth. You need a piece of equipment that you will be comfortable with; not something that may cause additional problems. Do your homework and find some other way to save pennies. Canes and walkers allow people to remain functionally independent, but a faulty piece of equipment can alter your gait and cause unspeakable problems.
- Consult a physician and work with a Physical and/or Occupational therapist specializing in the selection, care and use of mobility devices. Part of the process should be learning how to use your particular cane, walker or wheelchair and practicing until you are an expert. Your device should give you a sense of stability and security. You should not feel intimidated or vulnerable when you set out on your walk.
A number of new designs for wheelchairs, walkers and canes are available today. Ideally a cane or walker should be adjustable, adaptable, and able to stand upright so that you aren’t juggling keys and packages or tripping over them if they fall to the floor. I’ve seen some fancy wheeled walkers that glide like baby joggers, but haven’t had the pleasure of working with one of the high tech canes. It is in your best interest to buy the best equipment that you can afford and learn how to use it properly.