Recovering from an Accident – Walking Aids
I’m Ed Smith, a Folsom Personal Injury Lawyer. If a person suffers an injury to their legs, hips, or lower back, in most cases they require a device to assist them with walking around. Walking aids are also called ambulatory assistive devices by health care professionals. These devices can help an individual to be more independent and not rely on a wheelchair or caregiver to move around. There are many different kinds of walking aids and each fills a different role in meeting the mobility needs of injured people.
Weight Bearing Status
After a traumatic injury or surgery to a lower extremity, the doctor or surgeon will prescribe a weight bearing status. This prescription provides instructions to the patient and their caregivers on how much weight or pressure they are allowed to place on the affected extremity. The different statuses are listed as such:
- Non-Weight Bearing – The limb must be kept off of the ground the entire time the patient is standing or walking.
- Toe-touch weight bearing – When standing or walking, the patient can rest their toes on the ground to help with balance while still holding the rest of the limb and foot off the ground.
- Partial Weight Bearing – The doctor will give a percentage of body weight that is allowed to be borne by the affected leg.
- Weight Bearing as Tolerated – The only limit to weight load given by the doctor is determined by the patient’s own pain level. In these cases, the extremity is structurally sound and weight will not further injure or damage it. Total knee replacements are a good example of this as the patient can stand and walk around immediately after the surgery, the only limiting factor is the pain experienced.
- Full Weight Bearing – No restrictions at all given by the doctor.
When minimal assistance is needed for an individual, a cane can be the easiest option of the different walking aids. Providing an extra point of contact with a weaker leg can relieve just enough weight off of an injured limb to greatly increase balance and reduce the risk of falling. Canes can be made of many different materials and come in all shapes and sizes. Some canes have one point of contact with the ground while others have three or four depending on the stability needed by the patient. The portability of a cane makes it a good choice for people who move around a lot, especially up and down stairs.
Patients with good upper body strength and are required to put little to no weight on their leg frequently choose the high mobility and quicker moving option of crutches over a walker. Crutches can be tricky to master and exhaust more energy than other ambulatory aids. Managing stairs and slippery surfaces are also much harder with crutches so consideration of a patient’s environment must be taken into account. Three common types of crutches exist. Axillary crutches are the ones that are placed just below the armpit. Forearm or Canadian crutches have handles and a brace that encircles the forearm. Gutter crutches have a platform where the forearm rests which does not put weight on the wrist.
Walkers are the most stable of the walking aids covered in this article. They also can provide support to an individual without changing their gait, or manner in which they walk. Elderly patients who need something for balance and prevent falls can benefit greatly from pushing a walker along. Walkers are also great for people who are overweight because they provide more stability and less upper body strength than crutches. As with crutches, there are many different variations of walkers. The standard walkers have wheels on the back legs and rubber pads on the front. The wheels allow for easier gliding and the front legs provide a steady base when weight is transferred onto the walker. Other walkers have four wheels that make it very easy to push. Most of these have brakes on the handles that can be locked when the user sits down or stands up. Some have a seat built in so if the operator gets tired they can lock the wheels, turn around, and sit down right where they are.
Folsom Personal Injury Lawyers
I’m Ed Smith, a Folsom Personal Injury Lawyer. If you or a loved one have sustained injuries because of work, negligence, or a car accident, give me a call at 916-921-6400 for free and friendly advice. Or call 800-404-5400 free of charge for useful information that may help you with restitution.
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