Walking on Air: How to Choose the Right Mobility Aid

electric wheelchairMobility aids are generally used for one of two reasons: as part of a rehabilitation program for those recovering from injury or illness, or as a long-term aid for getting around for those who have difficulty with walking. Twenty-four percent of adults aged 65 and above have reported using mobility aids for assistance, according to a 2011-2012 National Health and Aging Trends Study.

Factors to Consider

Before you choose a mobility aid, there are some factors that the folks at 1800wheelchair would have you consider, such as:

  • The current level of mobility
  • Where the mobility aid will be used (indoors, outdoors, or both)
  • How long the mobility aid will be used each day
  • Space limitations
  • Exercise tolerance
  • Your strengths and mobility needs
  • How you will transfer in and out of the mobility aid

Types of Mobility Aids

There are many kinds of mobility aids available that could address a wide variety of needs.

Canes

Canes or walking sticks are the simplest mobility aid available. These are designed to help with the user’s balance. It relieves pressure on the joints for those with light to moderate difficulty in walking.

  • Wooden Sticks – These come in various sizes and strengths and can take varying loads. They aren’t as versatile as metal sticks.
  • Metal Sticks – Some metal walking sticks have a fixed length while others can be height adjustable. They are also foldable. Metal sticks are stronger than wooden sticks.
  • Tripods and Quadrupods – These are walking sticks with a three or four-point base, which make them steadier than the usual walking stick.
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Walkers and Rollators

Also known as Zimmer frames, walkers were made to help with serious balance deficiencies. This type of mobility aid improves stability and facilitates mobility by supporting the user’s weight and reducing leg pain. The only downside is that this mobility aid can be difficult to maneuver.

  • Standard Walkers – Standard walkers are the most stable. However, it requires the user to lift the walker completely with every step.
  • Wheeled Walkers – Wheeled walkers have wheels on both of the front legs while the back legs have rubber feet. With this kind of walker, you move forward by lifting the back off the ground and pushing forward. You can use the back legs as brakes when you put your weight on the frame.
  • Trolley Walkers – Trolley walkers work like wheeled walkers. The only difference is that these walkers have a small platform that you can put things on. You can use trolley walkers indoors and outdoors.

Wheelchairs

If you need more mobility assistance, the wheelchair is perfect for you. A wheelchair is crucial for maintaining independence and allowing its user to lead a normal life.

  • Manual Wheelchair – Lightweight and easy to transport, manual wheelchairs have low maintenance costs and unlimited range. It is the best choice for those with enough upper body strength, stamina, and coordination to propel themselves.
  • Power Wheelchair – Power wheelchairs are battery-powered versions of the manual wheelchair. These are made for people who need full-time mobility assistance but lack the strength to use a manual wheelchair.

If you have been injured or can’t move around on your own, you may need a mobility aid. With the list above, you now know what kind of mobility aid you should use.