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:

  1. Single or straight cane – one-footed canes
  2. Tripod cane – three-footed canes
  3. 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:

  1. The cane is fitted by instructing the patient to flex the elbow at a 30 degree angle.
  2. The patient should hold the handle approximately level with the greater trochanter.
  3. The tip of the cane should be placed 15 cm or 16 inches lateral to the base of the fifth toe.
  4. The cane is held in the hand OPPOSITE to the affected extremity.
  5. 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

  1. It is one of the crucial responsibilities of the nurse to continually assess the stability of the patient.
  2. The nurse should also keep in mind to consider patient safety all the time (protecting the patient from falls).
  3. When walking with a patient on cane, the nurse walks with the patient while holding at the waist as needed for balance.
  4. Tolerance of walking should also be assessed by the nurse.
  5. Rest periods should be provided as necessary.

Ambulating with Cane: Cane-foot sequence

  1. The hand opposite to the affected extremity holds the cane to widen the base of support and to reduce stress on the affected limb.
  2. As the cane is advanced, the affected leg is also moved forward at the same time.
  3. The cane should be kept fairly close to the body to prevent leaning.
  4. 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

  1. To go up the stairs, step up on the unaffected extremity.
  2. Place the cane and affected extremity up on the step.

Ambulating with Cane: Cane-foot sequence: Going Down the Stairs

  1. To go down the stairs, place the cane and affected extremity down on the step.
  2. Step down the unaffected extremity.

Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

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