A mobility aid is a device designed to assist walking or otherwise improve the mobility of people with a mobility impairment.
There are various walking aids which can help people with impaired ability to walk and wheelchairs or mobility scooters for more severe disability or longer journeys which would otherwise be undertaken on foot.
Walking aids include assistive canes (commonly referred to as walking sticks), crutches, and walkers. As appropriate to the needs of the individual user, these devices help to maintain upright ambulation by providing any or all of: improved stability, reduced lower-limb loading and generating movement.
The cane or walking stick is the simplest form of walking aid. It is held in the hand and transmits loads to the floor through a shaft. The load which can be applied through a cane is transmitted through the user's hands and wrists and limited by these.
A crutch also transmits loads to the ground through a shaft, but has two points of contact with the arm, at the hand and either below the elbow or below the armpit. This allows significantly greater loads to be exerted through a crutch in comparison with a cane.
Devices on the market today include a number of combinations for canes, crutches, and forearm crutches. These crutches have bands that encircle the upper arms and handles for the patient to hold and rest their hands to support the body weight.The forearm crutch typically gives a user the support of the cane but with additional forearm support to assist in mobility. The forearm portion helps increase balance, lateral stability and also reduces the load on the wrist.
A walker (also known as a Zimmer frame) is the most stable walking aid and consists of a freestanding metal framework with three or more points of contact which the user places in front of them and then grips during movement. The points of contact may be either fixed rubber ferrules as with crutches and canes, or wheels, or a combination of both. Wheeled walkers are also known as rollators. Many of these walkers also come with an inbuilt seat so that the user may rest during use and with metal pouches to carry personal belongings.
The Walk Aid Scooter allows a user with normal balance and foot, knee or hip conditions to unload the lower extremities. The two-wheeled scooter has a bicycle-type seat and handlebars, and is manually propelled with one or both feet. This walking aid scooter provides more support than a cane and is lighter,less bulky and easier to propel than a wheelchair.
Wheelchairs and mobility scooters substitute for walking by providing a wheeled device on which the user sits. Wheelchairs may be either manually propelled or electrically powerew (commonly known as a "powerchair"). Mobility scooters are electrically powered, as are motorized wheelchairs. Wheelchairs and Scooters are normally recommended for any individual due to significant mobility/balance impairment. A Registered Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist (few cases) are able to provide object and clinical testing to ensure proper and safe device recommendations.
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