Known as walking aids, canes and walkers have a simple design, but they are beneficial if you have balance or mobility challenges. However, they offer varying support, mobility, and comfort, so it is crucial to make the right choice. A failure to determine the appropriate walking aid can result in discomfort and risk for falls.
Walking canes provide additional support and balance. A cane offers mild or moderate mobility assistance. A walking cane is suitable if you experience mild challenges with standing upright or wobbling, but there is the capacity to stand without support for a while. The design of canes hinders them from bearing the body’s entire weight, but they give extra stability you might require periodically. A walking cane is an excellent solution if you only need additional balance and support.
A walker supports a person with poor balance. It should be your choice if you have a pressing need for support because of weakness that restricts balance, standing, or mobility and arthritic pain in the hips or both legs.
Walkers provide a much larger support base, and some can support 50% of the body weight.
The four tips of a walker provide the stability that allows a user to rest body weight against it. Walkers are worthwhile if you experience severe mobility challenges, especially when recovering from an immobilizing injury or surgery.
However, a walker user should have adequate strength on the upper because it requires lifting when moving with it. Users with a weaker upper body can still use a walker, but it should be a rollator type. A rollator is a hybrid between a wheelchair and a walker. It has wheels to simplify maneuvering and handbrakes to slow it down. A walker is a worthwhile investment if you experience severe mobility challenges, especially when recovering from an immobilizing injury or surgery.
It can be challenging to choose, especially if your stability keeps changing. An appropriate approach is to consult a physical therapist or mobility specialist before going to a mobility and accessibility provider.
These professionals do a gait assessment to determine the best device between the two. They also help to fit and use it correctly after purchase because it is not as apparent as many assume. For instance, many people use a cane on the side with a hurting knee or hip. However, the correct way to use it should be with the opposite hand for the bodyweight to shift onto the cane and relief the weaker side.
The following factors help in deciding between a cane and a walker.
1- Point of weakness or pain: Canes suit someone with a problem on one body side, like one leg. A walker is for pain or weakness on both sides and the lower half of the body.
2- Weight to be supported: Canes support up to 25% of body weight, but walker supports more. Some can support half the body weight.
3- Flexibility: A can is more flexible because you can use it on stairs, but a walker cannot support you on a staircase.
After deciding whether you need a walker or a cane, ensure you buy the type that gives you excellent grip, support and improves your mobility.