Assistive Devices for Walking
A cane is used to help a patient walk with greater balance and support. Aside from the mentioned benefits a cane is also used to help relieve pressure on the weight-bearing joints by redistributing the weight of the body.
Types of cane:
- Single or straight cane – one-footed canes
- Tripod cane – three-footed canes
- Quadripod cane – four-footed canes. This type of cane provides more stability than the single canes.
For safe cane use, this assistive walking device should be fitted with a gently flaring tip that has flexible and concentric rings. The tip with its concentric rings provides optimal stability which functions as a shock absorber and enables the patient to walk with greater speed but less fatigue.
Proper Cane Use:
- The cane is fitted by instructing the patient to flex the elbow at a 30 degree angle.
- The patient should hold the handle approximately level with the greater trochanter.
- The tip of the cane should be placed 15 cm or 16 inches lateral to the base of the fifth toe.
- The cane is held in the hand OPPOSITE to the affected extremity.
- In normal walking: the opposite leg and arm move together, a movement called reciprocal motion. This motion should be carried through when walking with cane.
Nursing Responsibility for Patients with Canes
- It is one of the crucial responsibilities of the nurse to continually assess the stability of the patient.
- The nurse should also keep in mind to consider patient safety all the time (protecting the patient from falls).
- When walking with a patient on cane, the nurse walks with the patient while holding at the waist as needed for balance.
- Tolerance of walking should also be assessed by the nurse.
- Rest periods should be provided as necessary.
Ambulating with Cane: Cane-foot sequence
- The hand opposite to the affected extremity holds the cane to widen the base of support and to reduce stress on the affected limb.
- As the cane is advanced, the affected leg is also moved forward at the same time.
- The cane should be kept fairly close to the body to prevent leaning.
- When the unaffected extremity begins the swing phase, the client should bear down on the cane.
Ambulating with Cane: Cane-foot sequence: Going Up the Stairs
- To go up the stairs, step up on the unaffected extremity.
- Place the cane and affected extremity up on the step.
Ambulating with Cane: Cane-foot sequence: Going Down the Stairs
- To go down the stairs, place the cane and affected extremity down on the step.
- Step down the unaffected extremity.