There’s no set indication for when it becomes necessary – or even highly advisable – to use a cane. Certain physical conditions, like healing after surgery or recuperating from physical injury, can make using a cane necessary. Similarly, a cane can be a way to make periods of extensive walking, or walking on uncertain terrain – like during a vacation, or in the outdoors – easier and safer to manage for people of all ages.
To fulfill a general need – to augment stability and balance, for example – the signs may not be obvious, or individuals may feel reluctant to accept dependence on a cane. When a cane does become integrated into daily activities, however, users typically find a regained sense of independence, confidence, comfort and ease. As with any assistive device, it’s imperative to be well informed about what to look for in a cane.
Types of Canes
There are two basic types of canes. The first has a single tip, which is helpful for added balance. The other, called a quad cane, offers more stability with four prongs at the base, and is suitable for bearing weight.
Canes come with a variety of handle options, and choosing the right grip is largely dependent on personal preference. The user and medical professional should consider the user’s needs and concerns, such as trouble gripping with fingers, weakness or arthritis, and choose a grip that will offer comfort both in shape and material. For instance, a palm handle is ergonomically designed to fit the contours of the hand, giving support without requiring a tight grip – a great option for those suffering from arthritis.
The best way to determine which is the best fit for a patient’s specific situation is to consult with a doctor or physical therapist. If a user begins to experience pain or weakness, or if balance and stability are not restored using a cane, a doctor or physical therapist should be alerted, as another assistive device, such as crutches or a walker may be a better option.
Using a Cane
According to the National Institutes for Health (NIH), the most commonly asked question about using a cane is with which hand to hold it. It’s best for patients to hold their cane in the hand opposite the weak or recovering leg, when applicable. For general use, the cane should be held in the dominant hand. The NIH also recommends:
- The tip or all four prongs be on the ground before supporting weight with the cane.
- Look forward when walking, not down at the feet.
- Cane must be adjusted to patient height:
- The handle should be at the level of patient’s wrist.
- The elbow should be slightly bent when patient is holding the handle.
- The cane should have a durable, sanitary and comfortable handle.
- When standing from, or lowering the body to a seated position, a patient should use a chair with armrests for ease and stability.
When a patient is dependent on a walking aid to get where they want to go, it’s imperative to be both correctly fitted to the device, and to have the product that is best suited to their needs. Whether it’s using crutches, or a rollator, a walker or a cane, Symbius Medical offers a variety of products to fit anyone’s needs, from youth to adult and bariatric. We specialize in quad canes, “T” Handle design, cane seats, and forearm crutches and carry a variety of walkers and rollators from leading manufacturers.
At Symbius Medical, we believe the right thing for you is the right thing for us. Contact us today to learn more about our services and resources.