Mobility devices. WHICH is best for WHOM?

Mobility devices are used by nearly 30% of adults 65 years and older when OUTside the home and 26% use them INside the home. These devices often help decrease the risk and the fear of falling in older adults. Assistive devices can improve balance, increase mobility and confidence, reduce pain and decrease the risk of falls. When a fall causes a hip fracture, this is especially harmful in that hospitalization, surgery, rehab and possibly long-term nursing home care may ensue. The patient may never return to independent living.

Canes: improve standing tolerance and help walking by off-loading a weak or painful leg. Canes are the least stable of all assistive devices. Cane-users must have sufficient upper body strength, balance and dexterity to use them safely.
Standard cane: Should only be used for minimal weight-bearing.
Offset cane: More supportive than a standard cane. Handgrip more comfortable than standard cane.
Quadripod/ 4-pronged cane: Larger base, stands on its own slightly heavier than other canes, may not fit on stairs.

Crutches: Not used much in older adults due to the upper body strength that is needed to appropriately use them.

Walkers: MANY older patients use walkers to help people with poor balance or those who cannot bear full weight on their legs. There are a few different kinds of walkers.
Two-wheel rolling walker: Easier to maneuver than a walk with no wheels.
Four-wheel rolling walker: Also called rollator. Best for those who need rest breaks due to lung or heart endurance issues. Least stable type of walker so patients need to NOT need to fully off-load their weight from a limb.

Wheelchairs: Best for those who lack the lower body strength, endurance, or balance for walking. Need to be properly sized and the patient educated to help avoid skin breakdown, pressure ulcers.
Manual wheelchairs: Patients need sufficient upper body strength and coordination to move and maneuver it.
Power chairs: For those who cannot operate a manual wheelchair. These may be hard for insurance to pay for.

I hope this helps.

About drlesliegreenberg

I have been practicing as a family physician for over 20 years--as both an educator of physicians and clinician. From infancy to the elderly, I perform obstetrics and general medicine. I love my career and am passionate about my field of knowledge and my patients. Follow me on Facebook at Leslie Md Greenberg Medical Disclaimer The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.
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