Someone prescribed to use a cane might be recovering from an injury, nursing a painful condition on their lower body or it could be an age related condition that makes a person lose their normal balance. Many people make the mistake of purchasing a cane without professional advice and end up with a worse condition to treat. Therefore the importance on how to choose the right cane.
According to doctor Robert Lam, a Geriatric rehabilitation specialist, the help of a cane can be optimized if the specialist asks 3 simple questions:
Is the cane being used for weight bearing or for balance?
Is the patient using the right length for their cane?
Is the patient using the cane properly?
have revealed that patients often present cane related issues when using their walking aid for other lower body conditions; all of this because they are either not choosing the right cane or not using the cane properly.
So here are some tips on how to choose the right cane:
Sizing your cane: Your walking aid should always be at the right height, otherwise you could end up lowering yourself more than you should, or if it is higher, you could be putting more pressure on your shoulders and back, causing pain. The best option would be to have a specialist measure your cane and make it fit your height keeping in mind how and for what it will be used. With the help of someone to measure the cane's length, stand upright in a relaxed stance wearing the shoes you normally wear on a hard surface. Normally, around 95% of times, you will use the hand opposite to the affected leg. Hang your arm loosely at your side but slightly bending your elbow(natural bend); with your arm in this position, the cane should come up from the floor to the crook of your wrist.
Types of canes:
There is a large variety of canes
in the market, however they all have a specific need to fill. Here are the most common types:
Straight cane: they concentrate solely on balance support. They are the ones that usually come with a rounded handle, also know and "crook handle" (like the ones tap dancers, or even Fred Astaire used) and normally have a removable rubber tip. They come in different materials such as wood or aluminum.
Folding cane: they have an adjustable height and can be folded in sections for an easy storage and can have different shapes of handles.
Offset cane: these are the ones that come with a "J" handle. They are designed specifically for patients with wrist problems that need comfortable balance support. Like the straight cane they come with replaceable rubber tips.
Quad cane: They also offer balance support but these offer additional stability since their base has four points meeting the ground (you know, like the one Mr. Fredricksen uses in Disney's movie UP?). Besides that extra support it permits you to let go of the cane and it will not fall to the ground.
Support or balance: This is an important aspect to consider when buying a cane. If you'll be using it to support your weight due to an injury or disability you should check the weight guidelines for each cane. But if you are looking for a balance support cane or light support, you probably don't need a specialized heavy duty cane, therefore could pick the light weight canes.
The goal on knowing how to choose the right cane is to prevent any further discomfort or conditions that could prevent you from walking altogether. And it is also important to emphasize that you should consult with a specialist first before buying a walking aid.