How to use Canes and Walkers
a reference for the rest of us!
SynopsisIf you ever break a bone in your leg or foot, have a surgical procedure on your lower limb or suffer a stroke, you may need to use a cane or a walker. In the beginning, everything you do may seem difficult, but with a few tips and some practice, you will gain confidence and learn to use your walking aid safely.
You may find it helpful to use a cane if you have a small problem with balance or instability, a minor weakness in your leg or trunk, an injury or pain. If you are elderly, a single point cane may also help you to keep living independently. The top of your cane should reach to the crease in your wrist when you stand up straight. Your elbow should bend a bit when you hold your cane. Hold the cane in the hand opposite the side that needs support.
When you walk, the cane and your injured leg swing and strike the ground at the same time. To start, position your cane about one small stride ahead and step off on your injured leg. Finish the step with your normal leg. To climb stairs, grasp the handrail (if possible) and step up on your good leg first, with your cane in the hand opposite the injured leg. Then step up on the injured leg. To come down stairs, put your cane on the step first, then your injured leg, and finally the good leg, which carries your body weight.
If you've had total knee or hip joint replacement surgery, or you have another significant problem, you may need more help with balance and walking than you can get with crutches or a cane. A pickup walker with four solid prongs on the bottom may give you the most stability. It lets you keep all or some of your weight off your lower body as you take your steps. You use your arms to support some of the weight. The top of your walker should match the crease in your wrist when you stand up straight. Don't hurry when you use a walker. As your strength and endurance get better, you may gradually be able to carry more weight in your legs.
First, put your walker about one step ahead of you, making sure the legs of your walker are level to the ground. With both hands, grip the top of the walker for support and walk into it, stepping off on your injured leg. Touch the heel of this foot to the ground first, then flatten the foot and finally lift the toes off the ground as you complete your step with your good leg. Don't step all the way to the front bar of your walker. Take small steps when you turn. To sit, back up until your legs touch the chair. Reach back to feel the seat before you sit. To get up from a chair, push yourself up and grasp the walkers grips. Make sure the rubber tips on your walkers legs stay in good shape. Never try to climb stairs or use an escalator with your walker.
Other general guidelines for using walking aids around the house include: