In a nutshell, mobility aids are devices that help you walk or move around thus giving you more freedom to perform simple activities on your own.

According to the United States Census Bureau, ⅔ of people 65 years and older experience difficulty in walking or climbing the stairs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on the other hand, report that about 18.2 million adults are unable or find it very difficult to walk a quarter mile.

And although 6 million of those with mobility issues are the elderly, it’s still not just a problem of old age. Mobility problems can also result from accidents and occupational and sports-related injuries.

Either way, mobility aids offer more than just physical assistance since they can also help boost a person’s emotional well-being and increase their self-esteem especially since they will no longer need others to assist them in going from one place to another. In addition, these devices help in maintaining balance, aid in the prevention of injuries particularly falls, and allow the person to attend to his/her errands independently.

Who needs mobility aids?

Aside from being a part of a rehabilitation program, people suffering from the following conditions can benefit from the said devices.

  • People with arthritis

  • Victims of accidents involving the lower extremities

  • People with injuries in the lower extremities such as fractures, sprains and strains, a broken kneecap, and dislocations

  • Injury to the back

  • Visual impairment

  • Recent stroke or brain injury

  • Developmental disabilities

  • Balance or neurological problems

  • Circulatory and respiratory issues

What are the different kinds of mobility aids?

1. Crutches

These take the weight off your leg and transfer them to your upper body. They also help widen your base to increase your balance and stability. There are three types of crutches including forearm, underarm, and platform. The type used usually depends whether the injury is short-term or long-term and if you have a weak grip or sufficient arm strength.

Crutches are indicated for people who either find it extremely difficult to walk or cannot walk entirely. It’s also best for people who can benefit from having an upright posture because it helps improve circulation and also assists in the proper functioning of the lungs and kidneys.

2. Canes

Like crutches, canes help transfer your weight from the lower limbs to the upper body. Because of the transfer of load, the pressure now lies on your hands and wrist. Canes improve balance and are useful in preventing falls.

Canes are also one of the most common mobility aids used especially for the elderly. Around  1 out of 10 adults who are 65 years and older use a cane. The most common types are white (usually for the visually impaired to guide them in locating obstacles in their path), quad (the preferred type of people who are recovering from a stroke because it offers greater stability) and forearm canes (best for distributing weight from the wrist to the arm).

3. Walkers

Although these metal frameworks provide you with better stability and support, using it is a bit more complicated than canes. Walkers are indicated for people with debilitating conditions, poor balance, and limited strength. There are several types including:

  • Standard. You need to pick it up to move so it’s not recommended for those who get tired easily.

  • A Rollator has wheels so there’s no lifting needed but also has hand breaks for additional safety. It’s best for people with balance problems.

  • Knee scooter. It’s like a rollator or a walker wherein there’s a cushioned platform for your knee as your stronger leg propels your body forward.

4. Wheelchair

This is indicated for people who are unable to walk or who are advised not to put weight on their lower limbs such as those suffering from paraplegia, broken bones in the lower extremities, balance problems or neurological issues. It’s also ideal for people with severe disabilities.

Some models are electrically powered while others need to be propelled manually by the user or pushed by another person. Aside from these, other wheelchair designs are standing type and sports, which allows the users to participate in games like basketball.

5. Motorized scooters

These are already battery-powered mobility aids but users often need to undergo training to ensure their safety. It’s mostly recommended for people who don’t have enough upper body strength to propel a standard wheelchair such as those with spinal cord injury. You drive it using a joystick, a steering wheel or a handlebar.

Mobility aids are indicated to provide support, ensure the user’s safety, boost physical and emotional well-being, and prevent further injuries. Usage depends largely on your condition and your doctor’s recommendation. It takes a while getting used to but the freedom and independence they offer make everything worth it.

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