Mobility aids have been designed to give people living with disabilities the chance to regain some semblance of normality. Mobility aids can be of use to a wide range of people; however, the type of mobility aid will depend on the individual’s needs. People who would benefit from mobility aids include those with arthritis, cerebral palsy, have trouble maintaining balance, broken bones or fractures. You may need a mobility aid if you have an injury, heart or lung issues, have suffered a stroke or are visually impaired or blind. Additionally, you may have a different issue, and your medical professional has recommended the use of a mobility aid.
There are a variety of different mobility aid options for individuals, each serving different purposes depending on the nature of a person’s condition.
A popular and common mobility aid are crutches, which transfer weight from your legs to your upper body. They are often found in hospitals and are prescribed to patients with short term injuries, however, there are cases when they can be used by those living with long term disabilities.
Commonly, those with short term injuries will use Axillary crutches, also known as underarm crutches. These are placed under the armpit as the wearer holds the handgrip. They allow those with injuries to the leg, such as broken bones, to move around without applying any pressure to the lower half of their body.
There are also forearm crutches, known as Lofstrand crutches, which have an additional plastic cuff. The user places their hand into this cuff and holds the grip. This type of mobility aid is advisable for people living with long term disabilities.
You may be recommended a Platform crutch if you have arthritis or cerebral palsy. These crutches are designed for people who have weaker hand grips, so the wearer rests their forearm on a platform to provide support whilst holding the grip.
Canes are often a great choice of mobility aid for those who have a greater chance of falling. Like crutches, they transfer the weight from the legs to the upper body, and in doing so, allow the user greater mobility. A cane does however increase pressure on the wrist and hands.
There are several types of canes, including Quad canes, which have four feet at their base, which provides more stability for the walker. Forearm canes distribute the weight to the arm, for those who may have weaker wrists.
A different style of cane is the white cane These are created for the blind community and those who are visually impaired. The cane is white as well as being longer and thinner than other types, to differentiate it from other canes. Instead of being used to support a person’s weight, the cane’s length allows the user to identify objects as they walk.
Zimmer frames, which you may also know as walkers, are mobility aids which have four legs and a metal frame which support the user while walking. Quite often, it is more elderly people who use these mobility aids. Some Zimmer frames also have glides or wheels on the legs, so that the user can slide the walker rather than having to strain themselves lifting it. Outside of this traditional option, users could require other types of walkers such as Rollators, which have four wheels and a seat, as well as handlebars, so that the user can rest. Additionally, knee walkers are an option that provides the user with the chance to rest their knees on a padded cushion and push themselves with their stronger leg.
Mobility scooters have been revolutionary for many people who have trouble moving by themselves and come in a range of styles. Commonly, mobility scooters have a seat with three, four or five wheels. The driver will then place their feet on plates and use handlebars or a steering wheel to steer the scooter.
Many mobility scooters are used by those with a lack of upper body strength, meaning they would be unable to use a wheelchair. Mobility scooter are also useful for people who struggle to walk longer distances. Importantly, with mobility scooters, you would need to understand the rules of the road and pavements, as well as having some training beforehand.
Like mobility scooters, wheelchairs are used by people who would not be able to use aids such as crutches or canes, due to an inability to walk, or an injury that requires they avoid any pressure on their lower body.
In some cases, wheelchairs can be electrical powered, allowing the user to move around with ease, but commonly they are propelled by the user, or pushed by another person. There are also specialised types of wheelchairs, such as standing wheelchairs, and wheelchairs designed for active individuals who want to keep playing sport.