Have you noticed that you are having more difficulty getting around lately, even when using your cane? If this sounds like the case, it may be time to consider switching from a cane to a walker.
While both of these mobility aids are used in similar ways, there are several key differences that set them apart. Keep reading to learn more about what makes these two devices different and what to consider when making the switch from cane to walker!
What Is A Cane vs. A Walker?
A walking cane is an assistive device that can be used by those who have difficulty balancing or moving around without assistance. It features a strong stick that typically has a curved handle that can be held by the user.
Though there are different types of canes out there, the main characteristic of walking canes is to provide support by shifting the user’s weight to one side of the body. This is to relieve pressure on the other side of the body. On the other hand, a walker is characterised by a metal frame that reaches the height of the waist.
Some walkers can be adjusted in terms of height and some walkers may or may not have wheels on the bottom. Nonetheless, walkers provide a more equalised sense of stability for users compared to walking canes.
What Is A Cane Recommended For?
A cane may be the ideal assistive device to choose if you have minor problems concerning stability or balance, weakness in your leg, an injury, or minor pain. The cane is typically used on the side of the body that does not have as much pain or weakness as the other side. This is to help relieve pressure from the pain, weakness, or injury that is felt on one side of the body.
For the elderly, a cane can be a great entry point for getting around comfortably and independently without too much inconvenience. In short, a cane is recommended for short distances, stairs, moving around cramped spaces, and one-sided stability issues.
What Is A Walker Recommended For?
Walkers are typically recommended for more significant problems such as having had knee or hip replacement surgery, major balance and stability issues, etc. A walker with four legs offers the most stability as it allows you to keep some of your weight off the lower body. Your arms will support your body’s weight as a way to achieve this.
Once your strength and endurance improve, you may find being able to carry more and more weight in your legs. In summary, a walker is recommended for longer distances, getting up from chairs, two-sided stability issues, endurance concerns, and balance concerns.
What To Consider When Choosing A Walker Over A Cane
The primary concern when choosing between either assistive device is whether you have pain or weakness in one leg or both legs. If you have pain and weakness in one leg, it is recommended to use a walking cane. Meanwhile, if you have pain and weakness in both legs, it is recommended to use a walker.
There are also various other factors to take into consideration when choosing a walker over a cane. Some of these factors include the following:
Using a walking cane requires some level of upper body strength. This could lead to issues such as exhaustion, shoulder pain, or posture issues caused by putting too much weight and pressure on your good leg. Since a walker has four legs instead of one, it will offer you the most stability meaning you won’t need to compromise the leg that does not feel pain or weakness.
Your body should not only endure the pressure of your walking cane but should also stay in tune with your balance. If you find that you are strong enough to move with a cane but seem to not be as stable as you would like, this could be a sign that you need to shift to a walker. A walker is highly stable because it has four legs, which means you’ll enjoy more balance than with a cane.
A cane can be very demanding for your upper body strength. This could be harmful to your heart as it can lead to issues such as high blood pressure or arrhythmia. If you seem to be overworked after using a cane, a walker may be the better option for you to increase your endurance.
One of the first signs you should start using a walker instead of your cane is when it becomes difficult to balance on one leg. You may also consider switching if you have struggles with strength, balance, and endurance. We hope we answered some questions about whether or not it's time to change from a cane to a walker!