Walking aids give the gift of independence. All walking aids offer some level of support and balance, but it’s important to find a device that meets your needs without hindering or harming your natural mobility.
Your physician or physical therapist can make recommendations on which walking aid is right for you. But you may also want to consider the following when choosing a device:
Understand the Most Common Types of Walking Aids
There are three main types of walking aids.
One of the most popular walking aids, a rollator is a wheeled walker with seats and hand brakes. A rollator offers a high level of stability, is very easy to use, and typically offers a seat for resting if the user gets tired. Many rollators also have baskets for holding items.
Canes help the user balance while relieving pressure on the joints. There are two main types of canes: single or quad.
- A single cane is a practical option for people with light to moderate walking issues.
- A quad cane is a practical option for people for people with more serious balance issues. Quad canes have four bottoms for better balance and stability.
Some canes also come with seats, so you can rest if you need to when walking long distances.
Walkers without wheels offer maximum stability compared to a cane, but they require more energy to use. Why? Because walkers must be lifted and lowered with each step.
There are also walkers with wheels attached. The wheels make it easier to move the walker without sacrificing stability.
What Do You Need the Walking Aid For?
What is the purpose of the walking aid? In other words, what are the issues you’re hoping to correct with a walking aid?
- Canes are ideal for pain or arthritis on one side of the body, especially in the hips or knees. Canes are also great for people with mild balance issues, or injuries to a single foot or leg.
- Walkers and rollators are ideal for people with pain or arthritis on both sides of the body. People with more serious gait, balance or leg weakness issues can also benefit from a walker or rollator.
Knowing the purpose of the walking aid will help you decide which one is the right choice for you.
Here are two important things to keep in mind when considering your needs:
- Walkers cannot be used on stairs, especially walkers with wheels or rollators.
- Canes are nowhere near as stable as walkers.
How Much Weight Does the Device Need to Support?
Weight is another consideration when choosing a walking aid.
- Canes can support up to 25% of your weight.
- Walkers and rollators can support up to 50% of your weight.
If you need serious support, a walker or rollator may be the only option for you.
Does the Walking Aid Have the Right Features?
The design and construction of the walking aid is important. Without the right features, the cane or walker may be unsafe to use.
All canes should have:
- A rubber, non-skid tip.
- A rounded or curved grip for better balance and to prevent hand fatigue.
All walkers should have:
- Rubber grips to keep your hands from slipping.
- Non-skin tips on the back legs if you’re using a front-wheeled walker.
The right level of stability and balance will help you find the right walking aid for your needs.