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Mobility Devices

Besides wheelchairs and scooters, there are many types of mobility aids to help people ambulate. They can be purchased at home healthcare stores, pharmacies, physical therapy organizations, hospitals, and of course, the Internet.

To learn your specific needs and latest equipment options, it is necessary to meet with a physical therapist. This can be liberating in terms of your mobility because you might not need that wheelchair or scooter you thought you did, but there are new, high-functioning wheelchairs if you do! (Please see all pages in this section.)

Mobility devices include various types of canes, walkers, rolling walkers with seats, triangular walkers, fore-arm crutches, roll-abouts (rolling platforms to prop a broken leg or foot), ankle-foot orthotics, and many more. Following are examples of mobility devices. In addition to their expertise, physical therapists have professional catalogs of specialty rehabilitation equipment and they will recommend something for you.

  • canes: Canes come in many forms, sizes, and shapes. Some have four prongs for extra support, while others have only one point. They have curved or straight handles. Canes allow patients to balance upright as they walk, by increasing their base of support. Canes also allow patients to maintain a normal walking pattern. They are customized to fit the height of the patient.


  • fore-arm or Lofstrand crutches: Fore-arm crutches help make a normal walking pattern easier, as well as take the pressure off of the underarms. Fore-arm crutches have cuffs that wrap around the fore-arms, as well as a handle for grasping that provides balance. Since the crutches become like part of the patientís body, they move more naturally with the swing of the arms during walking, mimicking the patientís usual walk.


  • walkers: Walkers come in several types. Walkers with sleds or wheels allow a person to walk without having to pick-up the walker. A wheeled walker is pushed forward without altering walking. Four-pronged walkers require patient to lift the cane off the ground while moving forward.


  • ankle-foot orthotic (AFO): AFO devices assist people with walking by allowing them to bend their ankle to improve foot clearance. AFOs are typically used when there is poor control of the shin muscles. People who most benefit from AFOs are those with foot-drop. AFOs typically go up to the mid-shin and prevent the foot from dragging. They also improve ankle stability.


  • knee-ankle-foot orthotic (KAFO): A KAFO is similar to the AFO, but it additionally improves stability at the knee. Patients with poor stability at the knee joint, as well as poor control of the ankle, would benefit most from this device to improve walking and overall leg stability. KAFOs typically go from the foot up to just above the knee.


  • roll-about: Roll-abouts are used when standing or longer walking is needed for patients who canít bear weight on one of their legs. This patient places the non-weight-bearing knee on a padded surface and pushes him/herself along to move forward. It does require patient to lift the roller when turning a corner.

Resources

Assistech, Inc.
http://www.azhearing.com/index.htm
Mobility canes for persons who also have blindness or low-vision. A big variety includes rigid or collapsible canes, and accessories. Also products for all types of disabilities

Cool Canes
http://www.coolcanes.com/
This company links to vendors who offer a diverse selection of canes, walking sticks, staffs, forearm crutches, and adaptive sports equipment. This is where anyone can find something interesting or fashionable.

House of Canes
http://www.houseofcanes.com/
This company offers a wide variety of canes, including Christmas canes, closeouts, accessories, and walking sticks

Thomas Fetterman, Inc.
http://www.fetterman-crutches.com/history.html
This company builds strong, high-quality, titanium custom forearm crutches in every color imaginable. They were even selected by a U.S. president, following an injury. Theyíre lined with leather pads for comfort and will never break. Cost is usually covered by insurance. This editor used a nice pair of red titanium crutches for years. Mr. Fetterman will tell you when you call to stay vertical!

Sammons Preston Medical Supplies
http://www.sammonspreston.com/
This catalog house carries all types of rehabilitative and therapeutic equipment for consumers and professional therapists.

1001WalkingCanes
http://www.1001walkingcanes.com
Large variety of walking sticks and walking canes including folding canes, hiking canes, antique canes, wooden walking sticks for men and women.