While walkers & canes are used by people of all ages, the older one becomes the more likely that this type of equipment may become a necessity. The exact type of walker or cane should be taken under the recommendation of one's doctor, physical therapist, or other health professional who would also provide the best form of fitting. However, a cane or walker can also be adjusted or properly fitted in the comfort of one's home as long as there's a helper present.
As always, its recommended that you read and follow the individual instruction guide for your particular brand and style of walker or cane.
Are used for arthritis or pain on both sides of the body, for medium to severe balance problems, or for injuries or weakness in both legs
They can support up to 50% of a person's leaning weight (depending upon the exact style of walker)
Most standard walkers have a total weight limit of 300 lbs
Bariatic walkers (heavy duty) are available for those who need extra weight support
Comes with 4 rubber/plastic tips on the bottom of its legs
The back rubber tips can be exchanged with rubber gliders to make movement over carpet easier
This style of walker needs to be manually picked up with every forward step
The most common and least expensive option
Also available in a travel folding variety for easy transport
Wheels on front of walker replace the rubber tips on the walker leg bottoms
Back legs have standard non-skid rubber grip tips or gliders for easier movement
The presence of the wheels in front means the walker doesn't have to be lifted from the ground when moving forward
Rolling (4 Wheeled) Walker/Rollator
Overall offers milder weight support than the standard or front wheeled walkers
Requires the least amount of energy to move forward
May be equipped with seat or brakes
Keep in mind...
The walker legs & folding mechanisms should always be locked when the walker is in use (including during the original fitting)
Make certain that the hand grips and rubber tips on the walker legs remain tight and snugly fitted
Most hand supports on walkers are rubber grips. Larger & softer grips are available and recommended for those with arthritis or similar hand conditions
Tray/basket/tote bag attachments are available for the front & sides of the walker. Use only the official attachments and do not otherwise hang or attach other types of bags or items as they may unbalance the walker & greatly increase the chance of falling.
Are used for arthritis or pain on one side, for mild balance problems, or for injuries to a particular hip/knee/foot/leg
They can support up to 25% of a person's leaning weight (depending upon the style of cane)
Canes should be used on the opposite side of the injury/weakness
Single Point Cane
One rubber tip on the bottom of the cane
Used for milder problems & injuries
The most common style of cane in use
Travel foldable versions also available
Four Point/Quad Canes
The cane splits into four points at the bottom
Helpful for greater balance issues
Tends to be more unwieldy than the single point variety
Comes with foldable attached seating
Tend to be Single Point Canes or variations of tri-pods
Keep in Mind...
Canes tend to come in wood or aluminum(or other metal) varieties.
Most aluminum versions can be easily adjusted, but wood canes must be bought or cut to proper size for the person who will be using them
Make certain that there are no tears, wear, or looseness on the rubber tip of the cane or with the hand grips.
Curved or rounded grip handles help with hand comfort while in use and can also help with maintaining proper balance
Custom fitted (shaped to an individual's hand) foam grips are also available
Larger and softer grips are recommended for those with arthritis or other hand/wrist conditions.
Numbness or pain in the hand during use means the cane's current grip isn't suitable
Measuring Wrist Height
The correct length of a walker or cane (from rubber tip to handle grip) is measured from the floor to wrist height.
Wear normal walking shoes during the fitting.
Stand straight with arms hanging comfortably down at sides.
The distance from the floor to the wrist (at the wrist joint/wrist crease) is how high the walker/cane's handle should be
Have a helper take this measurement
Adjust the cane or walker's grips to the properly measured height (with the cane or walker in hand, the elbow should bend about 15 degrees)
Having the handle/grip too low or too high will unbalance the user and cause pain in the back or arms
Aluminum canes and walkers tend to be adjusted by pushing buttons on the sides of their frames and sliding the metal tubing until the button locks back in place.
For walkers, make certain that all four legs have been adjusted to the same height (all four feet including the wheels for front wheeled or four wheeled walkers must be at an even level)