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Clinical Indicators for Using a Cane

Despite the development of modern mobility assistive technologies, canes remain the go-to device when balance and weight bearing are required.

Its popularity emanates from its basic design. It is just a simple stick for walking. It is easy to use. This can be used in any part of the house (kitchen, bathroom, etc.). This device can be used in areas where the general public is allowed – inside public transportations, malls and restaurants. This is also convenient to use inside the office.

Canes can be categorized based on the materials used: traditional wooden cane and standard aluminum. They are also categorized based on their handles: curved, rounded or grip type.

The other category is based on the number of tips: standard type with single tip and the quad type with four tips.

Clinical Indicators

In an article published in the official journal of The College of Family Physicians of Canada, Dr. Robert Lam wrote that the standard type is used for balance; while the quad type is used for weight bearing.

The standard model, according to Dr. Lam, provides balance and stability for mild sensory or coordination problems found in visual, vestibular, auditory, peripheral proprioceptive, or central cerebellar disease. On the other hand, if weight bearing is required such as in a hemiplegic patient, he said that the ideal device is the quad version as this provides greater support.

A study by Yocheved Laufer showed that a four-point type increases stability of moderately involved hemiparetic patients during stance more than a single-point type.

A study by Kemp et al. showed that the “use of a cane significantly reduces medial knee loading and has the potential to reduce the risk of disease progression in knee OA (osteoarthritis).”

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, meanwhile, recommends that canes should only be used by those who can walk by themselves but feel that they need extra support for balance.

Proper Use

The American Geriatrics Society stresses that up to 25% of the user’s weight can be supported with a cane. Therefore, if you need more than 25% support of your body weight, this tool is not the right one for you. If you need support of up to 50% of your body weight, walkers are the right equipment.

A cane that is not properly adjusted can cause back, shoulder, elbow, and/or wrist pain. Properly adjust the height of the equipment by following these steps:

-Wear your most comfortable shoes.
-Hang your arm loosely at your side.
-Ask assistance in measuring the distance from the floor to your wrist. Adjust the equipment accordingly.
-Test the length by placing your hand on the handle. If you notice a 20 to 30-degree elbow bend, then that is the correct length.

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