A walking aid—a walker, crutches, or a cane—helps
substitute for a decrease in strength, range of motion, joint stability,
coordination, or endurance. It can also decrease the stress on a painful joint
or limb. Using a walking aid can help you be more safe and independent in your
Almost everyone has used a walking aid at some
time, even if it was just playing around with crutches that belonged to someone
else. As a result, most people think they know how to use this equipment. But
there are some simple principles that will make using your walking aid easier
A walker with four legs is the most
stable walking aid. Your doctor will recommend a walker if you need to keep all
or nearly all the weight off one leg, if your general strength or endurance is
decreased, or if your balance is not always good.
Be sure your
walker fits you. When you stand up in your normal posture and rest your hands
on the walker's hand grips, your hands should be even with the tops of your
legs. Your elbows should be slightly bent.
first with another person nearby to steady you if needed.
Most people should
not use a walker on stairs. Talk with your physical therapist to see whether it
is appropriate for you to use your walker on the stairs. If it is, have your
physical therapist show you how to do this correctly.
April 8, 2011
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & David A. Fleckenstein, PT, MPT - Physical Therapy
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