Mobility aids can be beneficial for those that require assistance with travel or mobility. Commonly, aids are prescribed by a health professional to assist mobility and maintain independence. In some cases, they can also be used to reduce pain and increase confidence. Mobility aids range from a walking stick through to a mobility scooter.
Why do we use mobility aids?
Mobility aids can be used on a short term or long-term basis. Depending on the purpose of the aid, mobility aids aim to improve mobility, maintain independence and provide confidence for individuals.
Aids can be beneficial for people with all kinds of problems. This includes people who may experience arthritis, disability, difficulty with balance, fractures, post-surgery, visual impairments, diabetes or wounds.
The type of aid that your health professional may recommend is dependent on your individual or specific needs.
What are the different types of mobility aids?
Sticks or canes – can be adjustable and in some cases foldable.
Crutches – commonly either forearm crutches or axillary (under arm). These are used to reduce the amount of body weight placed through the lower limb.
Frames – Very stable gait aid which can be used following surgery or for those who have reduced balance. Whilst some have wheels, frames require enough strength and mobility to lift and place safely whilst walking.
Walkers – Commonly a frame with four wheels, handlebars and seat.
Who can prescribe the right mobility aid?
A trusted health professional such as your GP, physiotherapist or occupational therapist can assist with making recommendations on the most appropriate and safe mobility aids. In addition to the right aid, the correct size and fit is crucial.
It is strongly recommended not to prescribe your own mobility aid. In some cases, using an aid where not necessary can lead to reduced strength, mobility and further functional decline. In other cases, having an inappropriate aid may not offer sufficient assistance to improve mobility and can actually increase the likelihood of falling.
Importantly, if needed, the correct mobility aid can actually improve independence, confidence, safety and wellbeing. Our team would love to hear about your experience using a mobility aid at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about mobility aids in Episode 20 of The Better Ageing Podcast:
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