Physical therapists, who are experts in restoring and improving motion, recommend that elderly adults who use canes and walkers as walking aids be properly assessed and fitted by a physical therapist to avoid fall-related injuries.
With emergency rooms experiencing 47,000 fall-related visits annually from senior citizens due to improper use and fit of walking aids, assessment by a physical therapist can help reduce the number of these dangerous incidents by ensuring appropriateness and proper fit of the walking device.
Tips for using walkers and canes:
The walker or cane should be about the height of your wrists when your arms are at your sides.
When using a walker, your arms should be slightly bent when holding on, but you shouldn’t have to bend forward at the waist to reach it.
Periodically check the rubber tips at the bottom of the cane or walker. Be sure to replace them if they are uneven or worn through.
Many people borrow a walking aid from a loan closet or from friends and family. If you do this, you should contact your local physical therapist to have the aid fitted since improper fit and misuse can result in further injury. Your physical therapist can also evaluate your walking aid and determine if it is in proper working condition.
From APTA *Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (June 2009).
“On the Move” is a periodic column giving healthy lifestyle tips and information on activities happening in the Skaneateles-area. Kraetz Physical Therapy is located at 796 Genesee St., Skaneateles. For more tips follow them at facebook.com/kraetzphysicaltherapy.