Mobility aids have improved so much that anyone who needs help getting around can find a useful tool to help out. There are various reasons for needing a mobility aid and options range from the walking cane to power wheelchairs. Choosing the mobility aid that’s best for you comes down to how you intend to use it, the level of mobility support you require and personal preference. In some cases, a doctor, therapist or other medical professional may recommend using certain aids.
Whether you need a temporary mobility aid or one for the long haul, we can help you sort out the differences between each type.
The walking cane is one of the most widely used and recognized mobility aids. The basic cane design has been around for centuries and in bygone eras, they consisted mainly of carved and polished wood. Well, thankfully, those days are gone, and the modern cane is a lot more comfortable and flexible to use.
The basic cane has either a c-shaped handle or horizontal handle at the top, an elongated pole and a single foot, with a rubber tip for stability. Most canes are made of lightweight aluminum or an aluminum blend. Enhanced canes may come with ergonomic handles, adjustable height or folding ability and a handy carrying strap. There are also canes with additional feet for greater stability and canes with an attached seat for resting on the go. You can even find canes in fashionable colors and patterns. Consider the level of walking support you need and your desire for convenience when choosing a cane.
Rollators and Walkers
Rollators are highly popular mobility aids that can help you get from point A to point B a lot faster than a cane or traditional walker. They are built for easy travel over sidewalks and roads and they typically have a sturdy frame with handles, adjustable height and four wheels for gliding along. Rollators are ideal for trips to the store, errands and social outings. If you need to rest between stops, choose a model with a plush seat.
A traditional walker offers a sturdy frame to lean on while taking one step, and then another at a slow to moderate pace. Four feet are covered with rubber tips and handrail grips may also be non-slip. Some contemporary models include two front wheels for easier mobility. Upper body strength is needed to move a walker forward. These are more useful for getting around indoor spaces.
Wheelchairs are either manual or powered. Most people do fine with a manual wheelchair, which vary in weight and design. All-purpose manual wheelchairs have large rubber wheels, which are propelled forward or backwards using the arms. Those with weak upper body strength and those who prefer a faster chair can opt for a power wheelchair. Automatic wheelchairs are sometimes covered by insurance, and if not, they require a considerable investment.
Tip: Make a wheelchair more comfortable to sit in for long stretches of time by adding a quality wheelchair cushion.
A transport chair combines the comfort and ease of a rollator with a manual wheelchair. In rollator mode, it provides steady rolling support for every step. In transport chair mode, it has a cozy seat and footrest. Another person is needed for pushing due to its manual operation. If this type of flexibility is desired, it’s a good option for switching between walking aid and sitting aid.