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Using a Cane

Images of several types of canes.

Canes are used to help with walking. Using a cane can assist with stability, reduction of pain, and can ease strain on certain muscle groups. Did you know, there are various kinds of canes? Most have a single point at the bottom. But there are also canes with three points, and some with four points. There are canes with different grips, and some which also have a forearm extension. So, how do you choose the proper cane for you? Well, that depends on what you needed it for. People with arthritis do well with a single point cane. However, a person with a neurological condition, such as people who have had a stroke, may benefit from a four-point cane which would allow them to place more weight on the cane and provide better stability. Let’s look at how you can choose the right cane for you, and how to effectively use a cane in the safe’s way.

Choosing a cane

It is important to pick a cane that fits properly. To adjust your cane, or to know if your cane is a proper fit for you. Stand up straight with your arms relaxed to your sides. A cane fits properly if the top of the cane comes to your wrist joint. For people with neurological conditions, it is important to consult with your primary care provider as you may require additional evaluation to choose the proper medical equipment. Our team of physical therapists can help evaluate medical equipment once you’ve seen your primary care provider. Once you are comfortable with your cane, let’s look at how to safely use your cane.

Using a cane

There is a proper way to use a cane. In this section we will discuss the proper way to position the cane, walk with the cane, and go up and down stairs with a cane. We have also attached a video at the end of the article we believe does an excellent job providing a visual understanding of our instructions in this article.

Let’s begin with properly positioning the cane. To do this, you want to hold your cane in the hand opposite to the injured or weakened side. It is important to remember to move your cane and the leg on the weakened side in unison, meaning at the same time. Now that you have the basics, let’s get into walking.

Walking

  • Put as much weight on the cane as necessary to make walking comfortable, stable, and smooth.
  • Stand tall with good posture and look ahead, not down at your feet.
  • Hold the cane about two inches in front or to the side of you.
  • Each time you take a step with your weakened side, move the cane at the same time to help with balance.

Remember to always move your cane and your injured side at the same time. Use your cane for support, and to help you balance. Now let’s talk about going up then down a fleet of stairs.

Going up steps

  • Step first with your strong foot
  • Move your cane and the weaker foot up the step at the same time.
  • Always use the railing with your free hand for safety.

Going down the steps

  • Step down with the cane and your weaker foot first.
  • Then follow with your stronger foot.
  • Always use the railing with your free hand for safety.
YouTube video: https://youtu.be/5jvtk8ZZUv8 (this video is intended for educational purposes only, not intended to replace advice given to you by your primary care team. NEHH is not associated with the author or its affiliates.)

Now that you know how to properly position your cane, walk, and go up and down steps with your cane. Review some home safety tips from New Era Home Health that can make your home safer when you require a cane to walk.

Tips to keep you safe at home

According to the Center for Disease control and prevention (CDC), over 800,00 elder adults are hospitalized from injuries sustained from a fall. More common injuries include fractures and traumatic brain injuries. Here are some tips that can help you minimize the risk of falling.

  • Be familiar with your home environment.
  • Have sturdy handrails in your bathroom and hallways.
  • wear nonslip, comfortable, well-fitting shoes.
  • Always keep a light on or use night lights at night.
  • Keep floors clean and dry, remove any rugs, cords, or loose objects from the floor.
  • Keep high-traffic areas of your home free from clutter.

Thank you for reading! Please share with friends, family, or anyone who would benefit from this information. At New Era HH, we strive to make education easily accessible to everyone. We know education is the foundation to a healthier lifestyle. Have a question? Feel free to reach us using one of our many communication methods, or simply comment below.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your primary care provider. It is intended for educational purposes only, please follow all advice given to you by your primary care team.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, August 6). Facts about falls. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved May 19, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/falls/facts.html

Physical Therapy 101. (2018, March 13). How to walk with a cane (sizing, training, use, and stairs). Retrieved May 19, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jvtk8ZZUv8

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