For someone who has limited mobility, a walking aid can be the ideal way to give you back your confidence to move around.
There are various options when it comes to walking aids so, it’s important to choose the right one for you. Some for example, are designed to enable movement around the home, whereas some are better designed for shopping and perhaps getting on and off public transport.
Typically, there are three types: wheeled walking aids, walking frames and walking sticks/ crutches. No matter which of these is right for you (or it may be a combination) they should all provide you with the following:
- Greater confidence in your walking ability
- Offer stability, giving you better balance
- Helps you maintain an upright body posture
- Enable you to move around with more ease and speed
Walking sticks come in a variety of styles. There are a few things to think about:
- Ensuring the stick is the right height for you
- Consider if you need one that can stand up by itself
- Are you right or left-handed?
- Do you require a seat for rest periods?
- Do you need the stick to go up steps?
Once you have decided on the above, it’s time to consider what type of walking stick will meet your needs.
Types of Walking Stick
These usually have a crook handle and can be cut to the correct height.
These are available in either set heights, or adjustable. There are also options for different handles, including right angle, crook shape or anatomically shaped handgrips.
Metal sticks are also available as ‘Folding Sticks’. Enabling them to be stored and transported easier.
Walking sticks with a seat
This option is ideal if you require rest periodically. For example, if you are out and stood in a queue. However, the seat size is often small so, it may be worth considering a stick with three or four legs if you require more support while sitting.
Tripods and Quadrupods
This style of walking aid has a three- or four-point base. Therefore, offering greater support than standard walking sticks. While they are available in narrow and wide based versions, they do take up more floor space than standard sticks.
Walking frames offer more stability than a standalone walking stick. A walking frame can off-load 64% of the user’s weight through the arms. This support can reduce leg pain and help people with balance problems.
These are commonly known as Zimmer frames and are usually used indoors. This style is useful as they give a large area of support. However, it doesn’t provide a natural walking pattern, with the user needing to stop and lift the frame to step forwards. This isn’t the best option if you get tired easily.
A wheeled walking frame is very much the same as a non-wheeled but in replace of the ferrules they have small wheels on the front legs. This enables a more continuous walking pattern for the user. However, this means it is not ideal for someone who needs to put significant weight on the frame.
These frames have three larger wheels that are uni-directional, making them ideal for outdoor use. They also have a break function.
This option is great for someone who requires a more fluid walking pattern and for use outdoors. Although, if you are someone who needs to lean or push against the frame, this would not be the right option. They can also be more difficult to manoeuvre on and off buses.
For more information on choosing the right walking aid please give our experts a call! They will be more than happy to talk through your needs and match the right walking aid to give you great mobility and support.
There is also a helpful guide available on the NHS website.