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Mobility devices for people who experience difficulties moving around unaided

by | Oct 25, 2023

For those who find it challenging to walk unaided due to age, injury, or disability, mobility aids can be life changing. They enable users to enjoy greater freedom and independence, resulting in a vastly improved quality of life.

Here is an overview of some of the devices designed to assist individuals in getting around:

  1. Walking Stick/Cane

For someone who can walk, but needs a little assistance with balance and support, a walking stick or cane is often the answer. They come in various styles, from simple wooden canes to ones with quad tips that offer extra stability. Forearm canes offer extra forearm support, allowing greater weight to be distributed from the wrist to the arm. Some canes are even foldable, making them more convenient for travel.

  1. Crutches

Crutches help to transfer weight from the legs to the upper body. They can be used singly or in pairs. They help to keep a person upright and may be used by those with short-term injuries or permanent disabilities.

The different types of crutches include:

  • Axillary (underarm) crutches
    One part of an axillary crutch is placed against the ribcage under the armpits, while users hold onto the hand grip. These crutches are typically used by those with short-term injuries.
  • Lofstrand (forearm) Crutches
    This type of crutch involves placing the arm into a metal or plastic cuff and holding a hand grip. Forearm crutches are more commonly used by people with long-term disabilities.
  • Platform Crutches
    With platform crutches, the hand holds a grip while the forearm rests on a horizontal platform. Platform crutches are not commonly used, except by people with a weak hand grip due to conditions such as arthritis.
  1. Walkers

Walkers offer more support than canes and are ideal for those who need substantial help in maintaining balance. Examples include:

  • Standard Walkers
    These consist of a simple frame that the user lifts and moves forward.
  • Rollator Walkers
    Being equipped with wheels, they allow for a smoother movement with less effort. In addition, they often come with a seat, brakes, and a storage pouch.
  • Hemi Walkers
    Smaller than standard walkers, they are designed for those who can use only one hand and are more stable than a cane but less cumbersome than a standard walker.
  1. Wheelchairs

Wheelchairs are for individuals who find it difficult or impossible to walk for any distance. There are several types:

  • Manual Wheelchairs
    Powered by the user rotating the wheels, or by a helper pushing it.
  • Electric Wheelchairs
    These are powered by a rechargeable battery-powered and are operated by a joystick.
  • Pediatric Wheelchairs
    Designed to be used by children
  • Sport Wheelchairs
    Specifically designed for various sports, including basketball and tennis.
  1. Mobility Scooters

These are battery-powered vehicles that resemble a scooter. They are perfect for those who can sit upright and operate the controls but find walking challenging. They usually come in 3- and 4-wheel variants and are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. and there are handlebars or steering wheels to control direction.

  1. Stair Lifts

For those who find stairs challenging, stairlifts offer a comfortable way to move between floors. They are chairs that glide up and down a rail system attached to the stairs. Modern stairlifts come with safety features, including sensors to detect obstacles.

  1. Platform Chair Lifts

These are designed for wheelchair users to overcome short flights of steps or curbs. The user rolls onto the platform, and it lifts them to the required height.

  1. Transfer Boards and Discs

These tools help individuals move from one position or place to another, like from a wheelchair to a bed or a car seat. They act as a bridge or a pivot point to aid in safe transfers.

Advancements in technology and design are constantly expanding the range of mobility aids available to those with walking difficulties. It’s crucial for users to work closely with healthcare professionals to select the device that suits their specific needs and ensures safety, comfort, and mobility. Regardless of the challenge, there’s likely a device out there to help individuals navigate the world with greater ease and confidence.

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