Choosing Walking Equipment
The need for walking equipment can be two fold; either it is required for rehabilitation purposes to aid with the recovery after an injury or operation, or it is required as a long term mobility solution to increase stability and independence for those people who have difficulty walking unaided.
Walking Equipment performs the following functions:
- Increases stability by supporting the users weight over a wide and stable base
- Aids in attaining a walking pattern in terms of speed and evenness of stride.
- It helps the user to maintain correct body posture.
- Using walking equipment can increase the user’s confidence in their walking ability, which helps to improve their step and speed up the recovery time.
- Re distributes the users weight, which reduces pain the joints, muscles and ligaments.
Choosing the right type of walking equipment is paramount to the user getting full benefit from the walking aid. You really need to consider the following before choosing the equipment best for you.
It is important to have a walking frame fitted at the right height, if the frame is too high the user will find it hard to straighten out their elbows, which means that your weight will not be supported by your arms properly.
If the frame is too low the user will potentially be bent over, which can damage the back. (The only reason to set up a frame too low is if a person is prone to falling backwards, setting up the frame lower promotes leaning forward which decreases the risk of falling backwards).
It is important to have a walking frame set up by a Physiotherapist or someone trained to do so, they will measure you and ensure that the equipment is tailored to your needs.
Crutches must be at the correct height for proper supportive use.Always be measured for walking equipment wearing the correct supportive footwear.
It is imperative that walking sticks are set at the correct height for use if they ar to give the maximum support to the user. If the walking stick is set at the incorrect height the support will not be adequate.
Wooden walking sticks may need to be cut down to size whereas metal walking sticks tend to either be at a set height or have a telescopic mechanism which allows the user to adjust the walking stick to suit their needs.
Most 3 and 4 wheeled walkers come with a telescopic mechanism for adjusting the height, with secure spring loaded catches on most models to make it easy.
Each different type of equipment has different types of hand grips – ensure you choose the best solution for you. Depending on your ability to grip – will depend on which hand grip is best for your situation.
Hazards in the Home
Using the equipment in the home can require a few minor alterations and the need to be aware of certain hazards:
- Clear the walkways of clutter
- Fix down all loose rugs and stair carpets
- Put electrical items right next to the power point – or unplug them until they need to be used. Try not to have loose power cords lying around.
Loose rugs, trailing power cords and clutter are all potential hazards
Wet floors are a hazard and walking equipment will not work effectively on wet flooring, it does affect the braking mechanisms.
It is best to wear sensible footwear so you don’t have an extra thing to fall over.