Which Mobility Aids are Right for You or Your Loved One?
Our physical health is very important, but sometimes people need a little extra help to maintain their independence when moving about, due to either old age, an injury or an ongoing health condition. Using a mobility aid is one way to help people enjoy increased freedom and independence, as well as reduced pain and extra confidence when moving around. There’s a wealth of different mobility aids available to suit your needs, from electric wheelchairs and stairlifts, to walking aids like a cane or crutch. The type of mobility aid required for you or your loved one will depend on the mobility issue or injury, but luckily there are many to choose from so you’re bound to fight one to suit your needs.
If you’d like more information about which mobility aid would be the most suitable for you, and the pros and cons of each, read on for our handy guide to different types of mobility aids.
Why use a mobility aid?
As mentioned, mobility aids provide a range of benefits for users, including reduced pain, greater independence and the increased confidence that comes with feeling you can move about with freedom and safety. Using mobility equipment can also help prevent accidents, and improve a user’s overall quality of life. Walking aids like a frame or crutch help improve balance and stability, as well as aiding weight distribution and posture, which can reduce pain in the joints or muscles.
A disability aid in your home, such as a stairlift or wheelchair lift can also give a user their independence back, especially if you’ve struggled to climb up and down stairs easily. Mobility aids may also offer some long term financial benefits too, as users may find they don’t need as much professional care or help around the house.
Types of mobility aid
There are a wide range of mobility aids available, to suit different requirements and levels of need. From a relatively simple aid like a walking stick, to more complex disability aids like a wheelchair stairlift, we will look at each type of aid in more detail below.
Also called walking sticks, canes can be made of wood or metal, and have a curved handle at the top for extra comfort. They help support and spread the body’s weight, although prolonged use can put strain on your hands and wrists. Metal canes are often adaptable, and can be adjusted until you find a comfortable height, and some are jointed to enable them to be folded away for storage while on the go.
For extra stability and support, you could try a quad cane, which has four feet at the base to spread the weight and help you balance more efficiently. Another model is the forearm cane, which shifts the weight from the hands and wrists to the forearm, taking the pressure off if you have weak or painful wrists.
White canes are specifically designed for the blind or visually impaired, and they are longer and thinner than traditional canes to enable users to identify objects in their path, as well as signal to others that the user is visually impaired. Using a white cane can help those with sight problems to regain their independence, and feel more confident venturing out alone.
Crutches are similar to a cane, but provide extra support by helping transfer weight from the legs to the upper body. Crutches can be used on a short term basis if you’ve suffered an injury, or longer term if you have a disability or mobility issue. Crutches are best used in pairs if you have an injury, although those using crutches longer term may prefer to lean on just one like a cane. Underarm or elbow crutches are the most common type used for injuries, and feature adjustable lengths and a handgrip for balance. A platform crutch is more suitable for those with grip conditions such as arthritis, as they include a platform to rest the forearm on while the hand holds a grip.
Also called zimmer frames, a walker is a metal frame with four legs which gives support to the user and helps them balance while walking. They are suitable for those who need more support than a crutch or cane can give, as walkers can offload around 64% of a users weight, compared to 25% for a cane. Rubber hand grips add extra comfort, although a walker is not suitable for those who tire easily, as the frame must be picked up and moved with each step. A walker on wheels can remedy this, as long as you feel comfortable and safe steering and operating the brakes. Wheeled walkers often have extra useful features too, like an attached bag to store shopping and a seat allowing you to sit down when you need a break.
Wheelchairs are more suitable than walkers for those with more severe disabilities, limited to no mobility in their legs, or if you need to travel across longer distances. Wheelchairs can be manual (powered by the user moving the wheels with their arms, or pushed by someone else), or electric. Electric wheelchairs tend to take up more space, so you’ll need to make sure your home has enough storage, as well as room for the power packs and charging equipment. They’re also more expensive, however they require little energy to operate in comparison to manual wheelchairs, and allow the user a great deal of freedom.
A manual wheelchair is easier to transport, and many can be folded away for easy storage when not in use. They require less maintenance and care (not needing to be charged, for example), but users will need extra strength if powering the chair themselves. Frequent use can also cause strain on the shoulders and arms, so it’s important to make sure you are strong enough before making a purchase.
Installing a stairlift in your home can be incredibly beneficial if you struggle to climb stairs, but don’t want to be forced to downsize to a bungalow or flat. Stairlifts can be adapted to your needs, as well as different types of staircases depending on whether they are curved or straight. Stairlifts remove the potential for accidents on the stairs, and allow users to easily access their bedroom or bathroom without a painful trip up and down the staircase.
In some cases, you may be eligible for financial aid towards a stairlift, or they can be purchased second hand if stairlift prices are an issue.
Mobility scooters are similar to a wheelchair, and are a great outdoor option, with some even able to travel on roads. A certain level of upper body strength is needed to operate a mobility scooter, but they are comfortable to use over long distances and are able to tackle rough terrains. Like electric wheelchairs, mobility scooters also take up quite a lot of space, and they require good balance to operate safely. A powered wheelchair may be more suitable for someone with limited upper body strength as the controls are placed within close reach.
A wheelchair lift can be installed in either your home or workplace, and they make access much easier and safer for wheelchair users, as you don’t have to move from the wheelchair to a stairlift. They can be installed quickly and easily, and again, offer users greater independence as they can be used without assistance. Wheelchair lifts can be installed either indoors or outdoors, and they are more compact than you might think if space is an issue. They can be used to transport a wheelchair and passenger up a whole flight of stairs, or just one step, allowing you the freedom to move about your home in comfort.
If you’re after reliable mobility aids in South West England, get in touch with Euro Lifts. We supply a full range of mobility aids to suit all your needs, including wheelchairs, walking frames, crutches, walking sticks and more. As lift experts, we also design, produce and install wheelchair lifts, as well as offering 24 hours repairs if required. To discuss your requirements or learn more about our range of mobility aids, give a friendly member of our team a call or visit the website.