Polio Place

A service of Post-Polio Health International

Of Canes and Crutches

Category: Assistive Devices

Have you thought about using a cane or crutch but dismissed the idea because you’d be self-conscious? Think you'll look "disabled"? Figure that you’ve gotten along okay without walking aids so far, so why start now?

Good question.I know that feeling well and talked about it in “Facing Reality.”

But ask yourself if you are really getting along okay. Do you tire quickly when you walk? Is your gait unsteady? Does it take effort to keep your balance? Are you afraid of falling or do you fall easily? Do you cut outings short because walking takes too much effort? Do you tend to reach out to hold onto stable objects as you walk?

If the answer is yes to any of these, you have good reason to try a walking aid. The experiment won’t cost much and you might be able to borrow one for a trial run. Go to a full length mirror and watch yourself walking with and without the aid. Don’t be surprised if the added support makes you look less disabled.

When muscles are weak, we compensate any way we can. This may include bending forward, leaning to one side, walking asymmetrically, or distorting the body in various ways. These compensations squander energy and can make you look more conspicuous. Canes or crutches can help you walk more normally and the extra bonus is having more energy to enjoy the fun stuff of life. When considering a walking aid, a cane may be adequate if you only need minimal support.

© 1999-2008 Grace R. Young
Courtesy of Diane Young and Sharon Lark.

Tagged as: assistive devices , canes , energy conservation , mobility , muscles , weakness

Back to Top