Canes and Walkers

A look at the types of mobility devices available today reveals that there are indeed many choices. For canes alone, there are:

  • folding walking canes
  • cane seats
  • quad canes
  • adjustable canes

Add-ons or accessories for canes include:

  • stabilizer tips
  • fashionable cane covers that also protect the exterior of the cane
  • ice grip
  • T-handle
  • Gel grip

Canes can improve your balance as you walk. If you need the cane only for balance, think about selecting a standard cane with a single tip. If you need the cane to bear weight, then choose an offset cane with four tips.

To make sure your cane fits properly, hold the cane in your hand and your elbow should bend at a comfortable angle, about 15 degrees. You might bend your elbow slightly more if you're primarily using the cane for balance. Next, have your arm hanging straight down at your side. The top of your cane should line up with the crease in your wrist. If your cane is too long, you'll have to work harder to pick it up and move it. If your cane is too short, you may end up leaning to one side and getting off balance.

You can always ask your doctor or physical therapist for suggestions on which type of cane is right for you.

Walker types and accessories include:

  • Wheeled walkers
  • Folding walkers
  • Trays for walkers
  • Bags and baskets for carrying items
  • Grips, glides
  • Cup holders and extension legs

A walker can make it easier for you to get around if you have trouble keeping your balance or you are at a high risk for falling.

If stability is important for you, choose a standard walker that does not have wheels — which you must pick up to move. Many people, however, choose between two-wheel and four-wheel walkers.

Two-wheel walkers allow you to place some of your weight on the walker as you move. The wheels allow you to push the walker forward, and the legs prevent the walker from rolling while you're stepping forward. If you don't need the walker for balance, then you can get around faster with a four-wheel walker.