Mobility is essential to a happy, healthy life. A person that is suffering from spinal cord injuries, lost limbs, MS or dozens of other conditions must know how to find the right mobility aid for their specific needs.
As your condition progresses or improves, you may need to change mobility aids.
These tips will help you find the right mobility aid for your needs.
1. Annual Doctor Visits
An annual doctor visit is highly recommended. You need to know your current medical condition and what the doctor recommends as an assistive device. You may need to be evaluated by a physical or occupational therapist, too.
Medical professionals will be able to recommend a mobility aid that’s best suited for your level of mobility.
You may also be recommended:
- Artificial foot orthotics
- Exercises to strengthen weak muscles
But if you don’t visit a doctor, you might not know what technologies and advancements are available for you.
2. Know the Type of Mobility Aids and Assistive Devices Available
Mobility aids and assistive devices have advanced in the last decade or two. You can choose a cane if you have rather good balance and stability, or maybe your level of movement and strength is best suited for power wheelchairs – there are a lot of options.
The devices that are available to you, include:
- Quad-tip cans
- Manual chairs
- Motorized scooters
- Power wheelchairs
- Rollators (wheeled walkers)
You’ll also find a variety of orthoses, or braces, which may help you walk with a proper gait and strengthen weak muscles in the process. There’s also functional electrical stimulation (FES) which sends small electrical impulses to weak or paralyzed muscles to engage the muscle for a proper gait
3. Orthoses or Brace Options
Orthoses, or braces, allow you to walk with proper form and better overall stability. There are a lot of options available, and you’ll often need to have a brace custom made to fit your body and condition precisely.
Ankle foot orthosis (AFO) are the most popular brace options available.
The advantages of AFOs are:
- Foot and ankle support when walking
- Proper ankle and foot position
- Remain hidden from view and fit inside of a shoe
AFOs are not ideal when a person has poor balance or weak legs. Ankle deformities cannot be corrected with an AFO, and you’ll often need to change your shoe sizes.
FES devices will offer a functional method of restoring strength and mobility. These devices stimulate the nerves and can help a person lift their ankle when walking through low-level impulses.
Choosing FES devices allows you to:
- Activate weak muscles when you walk
- Move with greater fluidity
Nerve damage that is severe may cause FES technology not to work properly. Your nerves need to be in good enough condition to respond to the electrical signal sent to the muscle.
There are aid options for:
Balance aids, such as a cane, are great for a person that needs moderate assistance when walking. These canes come in single or quad tip options, with the quad tip providing additional support compared to a single tip cane.
Stability aids provide balance and stability for a person that has severe balance issues. When a person has difficulty walking and often falls, a walker or rollator will provide the extra balance needed to walk safely.
Transport aids are available for people that need to be transported and cannot walk. These aids can include a wheelchair, scooter or motorized wheelchair. A person that has mobility issues and can walk may still need a wheelchair for long distances or times when the terrain is too difficult to traverse on foot.
When in doubt, your best option is to seek out a professional to help diagnose and recommend the right mobility device for you.
Photo by gm.esthermax