The walking stick is an aid used by people with moderate walking difficulties. Gait disturbance may develop due to balance, muscle strength or bone and joint problems. The proposed cane designs also differ according to the type of problem. In this article, we answered the questions of which cane is chosen according to what and how to use a cane.
Standard walking stick: Recommended for mild sensory or coordination problems that affect vision, hearing, sense of body position or balance system. It stabilizes the person’s gait by providing extra contact with the ground.
Balanced cane: This cane is recommended in cases such as knee or hip arthritis , where the person cannot fully load the affected side or limb . It is suitable to be loaded along the shaft of the cane.
Balanced four-legged cane: This type of cane is recommended in cases where serious weight bearing is required, such as hemiplegia.
Apart from the cane, there are other walking aids such as canadian, crutches, and walkers. Which one of these will be preferred depends on factors such as arm strength, balance, coordination, general condition, disability level, cognitive functions of the person. A walker or a pair of crutches is required for people who need to use both arms for weight bearing and balancing, while a cane is a suitable option for people who can use only one arm. In addition, the amount of load that the auxiliary vehicle must carry is also an important factor.
Many people who use canes are unable to put a load on their legs on one side. Pain may increase when weight-bearing due to knee or hip osteoarthritis; During walking, the time to step on the problematic side is shortened, and the gait type called antalgic gait develops. Walking can be facilitated by getting support from a cane. Whether the patient will benefit from the cane can be tested with a simple method. If he can walk comfortably with one hand, just like a cane, it may be appropriate to use a walking stick. A walker is a better option if you need to hold both hands while walking.
Table of Contents
How Long Should the Walking Stick Be?
Ideally, the tip of the cane should be kept 15 cm away from the toes, while the elbow should be bent 20-30 degrees. This degree of bending allows effective use of the elbow when walking with a cane. During the gait cycle, the arm lengthens and shortens to absorb the shock. The bending angle of the elbow can be measured by goniometry.
Another way to determine cane length is based on the measurement made with the patient standing upright and hands free at the sides. In this position, the cane should come up to the wrist line or the greater trochanter protrusion of the thighbone. During the measurement, the person should wear suitable shoes.
How to Use a Walking Stick?
Most people buy and use a cane without consulting a doctor or physiotherapist. However, this may cause the wrong cane to be selected.
The cane should be held opposite the affected side and should be moved simultaneously with the affected side while walking. For example, if there is a problem in the left leg, the cane should be held with the right hand. Thus, normal walking can be imitated, balance and weight transfer are improved. A walking stick can easily carry up to 25% of a person’s body weight.
stand up from chair
When standing up from a sitting position, the cane is placed on the healthy side. First come to the edge of the chair, hold the cane, put a load on the strong leg and the cane, stand up. The cane should touch 5 cm in front of the affected foot, 15 cm outside.
Three-point or two-point walking can be done with a cane.
three point walk
- The patient should distribute weight between the intact and affected sides while advancing the cane approximately 30-45 cm forward.
- He then forwards his weaker foot forward.
- The patient transfers his weight from the healthy side to the weak side and to the cane. He then moves his good foot to the side of his weaker foot.
two point walk
- The patient should distribute weight between the healthy and affected sides.
- The patient advances the cane and the weak side together, keeping the cane close to the body to prevent side bending.
- While transferring his body weight forward to the cane, he moves his strong leg forward.
sit on chair
- The patient approaches the chair (or bed). He turns his back to the chair, making a small circle on his right side.
- He walks back towards the chair until he can feel the chair behind his legs.
- He gets support one by one with his hands.
- Sits in a controlled manner.
- When climbing stairs, the healthy side is moved up first. The affected leg and cane are raised to the same step while the body weight is transferred to the unaffected side.
- Body weight is transferred to the healthy leg. When going down the stairs, the affected leg and cane are lowered first. Then the healthy leg is lowered to the same step.