Monday, April 2, 2012

Selecting & Using a Cane

When a resident has limitations in balance, joint motion, coordination or strength, a cane can sometimes be a useful tool in restoring mobility.  The first key is having the right ambulation aid for the user’s needs and abilities.  The second is gait training to achieve the safest walking pattern.


The resident’s vision, balance and stability need to be considered, as well as his or her ability to learn new things and use good judgment.  If a cane is the right aid for the resident, it can provide support, balance, stability, safety, independence and relieve stress on the legs and feet.

A quad cane with four feet is the appropriate choice for a resident who is weaker on one side than another, such as after a stroke.


Here’s one way to determine the right height for the cane:  Turn it upside down with the handle on the floor.  With the resident’s arms at his side the tip of the can should be level with the wrist.  Wooden canes can be shortened by removing the rubber tip and cutting with a saw.  Aluminum canes have holes and pins to adjust height by the inch; there are extenders for very tall people. 

Using a Cane

To use a cane, the resident should hold it on his or her stronger side.  When walking, the resident should move the cane and the weaker leg together.  When climbing up stairs, the resident should first step up with the stronger leg, then push to move the cane and the weaker leg up.  To go down stairs, the resident should first step down with the weaker leg and the cane.  Then, using the cane for support, he or she can lower the stronger leg down.

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