How can I improve my mobility?
A mobility aid like a cane or walker can help if you have difficulty walking, climbing stairs or standing up. A cane or walker is also helpful if you have weaker muscles than usual, have had a leg injury or surgery, have trouble seeing, or have a history of falling or loss of balance. (12) Talk with your healthcare provider about any mobility changes you are experiencing.
Keep active. Thirty minutes of activity a day can help maintain and improve balance and mobility. it increases strength and flexibility and decreases joint stiffness, which helps lower the chances of falling. Exercises targeting legs increase strength, which help support balance during movement. Talk to your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program. (13)
How can a cane help me in my daily routine?
Talk to your healthcare provider to help you decide if you need a cane. If you do need one, he or she can fit a cane to your height and physical needs and show you how to use it. Canes have different handle grips that may make it easier to hold and bases with one or four tips, which help with balance or support. A couch cane helps you stand up after being seated, but it does not move. For more information about canes, you can visit your local pharmacy or medical supply store. Here are some tips for walking with a cane on different surfaces. (14-15)
Place the cane in the hand opposite the weaker leg, so if your left leg hurts, put the cane in your right hand. Move the cane and your weaker leg a short distance in front of you and then move your stronger leg. The cane and weaker leg should touch the ground at the same time.
Grip the railing with the hand opposite the weaker leg. Next, move the stronger leg up to the next step and then move the weaker leg to the same step, followed by the cane.
Grip the railing with the hand on the side of the weaker leg. Next, move your cane down to the next step and then move the weaker leg to the same step, followed by the stronger leg. (16)
How to select the proper length for a cane
Stand up straight with your shoes on and arms at your sides. The top of the cane should reach the crease on the underside of your wrist. If the cane is a proper fit, your elbow will be flexed from 15-20 degrees when you hold the cane while standing.
Find the right cane:
Straight canes focus on helping you maintain balance and stability. Most are height adjustable.
Offset handle canes are a good choice for people who cannot grip firmly. They also help distribute your weight better along the shaft of the cane. Most are height adjustable.
Folding seat canes offer the stability of a straight cane, but also feature a convenient folding seat if you get fatigued or need a rest. Perfect for standing in long lines.
Quad Canes have four tips. This gives you extra balance, support and stability. They’re also helpful because they can stand right in place so they’ll always be nearby.
Folding canes are a convenient choice if you don’t need a cane all the time, or find yourself fatigued later in the day. These canes feature a telescoping shaft or sections that fold into pieces-similar to tent poles, so you can store it in a purse or tote.
Bariatric canes are designed for users over 250 lbs. They’re available with offset handles or quad foot bases for added support.
How do I choose a walker?
Using a walker gives you additional stability when you walk. A walker can support a weak lower body, which can happen because of certain health conditions or surgeries like hip or knee replacements. A walker also helps reduce stress on the hips and legs and allows the joints to heal without additional pressure from the body’s weight. (16)Your healthcare professional can help choose a walker that fits your height and physical needs. Walkers come without wheels or with two wheels. Two-wheeled walkers are used by people with a weaker upper body sothey can avoid picking up the walker. When using walkers on flat surfaces, it is important to keep the walker’s legs even with the ground while taking small steps. (15)
What is the difference between a walker and a rollator?
If you need more support, but still have some leg strength, a rollator might be right for you. Rollators are like walkers, but they have three or four wheels. Three-wheel rollators are lighter, smaller and easier to move around. Four-wheel rollators are larger and more stable. Some rollators have seats for resting, hand breaks for stopping, or a basket for storage. They also fold for easy transport and storage. (14-15)
What are wheelchairs and transport chairs?
People use wheelchairs and transport chairs for mobility when recovering from surgery or injury. The person sitting in a wheelchair can move the chair, but a person sitting in a transport chair needs a caregiver to move the chair. Both chairs help people who have lower body weakness, spinal cord injuries or conditions that may make walking and standing difficult. They are also for people who do not have the ability to move their lower or upper body. (18)
There are many kinds of manual wheelchairs or transport chairs available. Some are light and can be folded, and others are heavier and don’t fold. If your upper body is weak, your healthcare professional may suggest a power chair, which moves on its own bybattery power. Power chairs range in weight, size and battery life, and some can fold for transport. Consider purchasing a cushion if you sit for extended periods of time. (18)
Which type of power scooter is right for me?
Power scooters give extra support for people who use a cane or walker inside and need more mobility outside. In order to remain stable when using a scooter, it’s necessary to have some upper body strength and be able to work the controls with your hands. Some scooters have seats that turn so you can easily get in and out of them.
- A three-wheel power scooter is lighter, more portable and better on even ground.
- A four-wheel power scooter is heavier, more stable and better for uneven surfaces. (20,21)
How do I choose a lift chair?
Lift chairs are cushioned chairs that can raise or lower to help you stand up and sit down, and they are available in different styles and sizes. Some questions to ask when choosing one include:
What chair size (width and depth) will work for you and your space?
How much weight can the chair hold?
How long will you sit in the chair?
Will you sleep in the chair?
Do you want the chair to recline, sit and lift?Do you want chair controls on the left or right side?
What kind of fabric do you like? (21)
Do you want a lift chair that can plug into an electrical outlet with a battery backup system? (22)