| || |
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 beliberating 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!
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 patient's body, they move more naturally with the swing of the arms during walking, mimicking the patient's 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 can't 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.
This Cerebral Palsy Guide provides an overview of mobility aids specific to cerebral palsy.
Here's another site (Cerebral Palsy Group) that gives an overview of mobility aids and assistive devices specific to cerebral palsy.
If you've had a wheelchair most of your life, chances are you have a go-to person or vendor to start the process of buying a new one. If you're in a rehabilitation program following a traumatic accident, even thinking about choosing a wheelchair may be difficult, but specialists will guide you through the entire process. But if you're elderly, or have an advancing condition, choosing your first wheelchair is truly a foreign animal.
Don't be tempted just to start using Uncle Ernie's old chair, because wheelchair technology has advanced greatly from the huge, heavy clunkers lent out at museums; new features of both manual and power chairs will significantly empower you to do a great many things like LIVE, LEARN, WORK , and PLAY!