A walking aid—a walker, crutches, or a cane—helps substitute for a decrease in strength, range of motion, joint stability, coordination, or endurance. It can also decrease the stress on a painful joint or limb. Using a walking aid can help you be more safe and independent in your daily activities.
Almost everyone has used a walking aid at some time, even if it was just playing around with crutches that belonged to someone else. As a result, most people think they know how to use this equipment. But there are some simple principles that will make using your walking aid easier and safer.
A walker with four legs is the most stable walking aid. Your doctor will recommend a walker if you need to keep all or nearly all the weight off one leg, if your general strength or endurance is decreased, or if your balance is not always good.
Be sure your walker fits you. When you stand up in your normal posture and rest your hands on the walker's hand grips, your hands should be even with the tops of your legs. Your elbows should be slightly bent.
Try this first with another person nearby to steady you if needed.
Most people should not use a walker on stairs. Talk with your physical therapist to see whether it is appropriate for you to use your walker on the stairs. If it is, have your physical therapist show you how to do this correctly.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||David A. Fleckenstein, PT, MPT - Physical Therapy|
|Last Revised||April 8, 2011|
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