The decision to use a cane, walker, or other device designed to improve your balance and mobility is not an easy one. It is a decision that millions struggle with each year. Let’s face it, many of you reading this article may associate these balance devices with aging, a decline is physical conditioning, and a loss of independence.
Well, the time has come to kick that negative attitude to the curb! Research has consistently shown 3 things when it comes to using walkers and canes.
#1 Walkers and canes prevent falls!
Several studies evaluating the effect of walkers and canes have proven that these devices can keep you on your feet. Scientists believe that walkers and canes improve balance in these 4 ways.
- Widens your base of support. Remember stacking blocks as a child? It was a lot easier to build a tall tower when you had a big, sturdy base. Using a walker or cane has been shown to widen your base of support, which in turn improves your balance.
- Reduces the amount of weight that your legs need to support. By getting your arms involved in the action, your legs need to support less of your body weight! Distributing your weight across more limbs improves balance and support.
- Provides input regarding the positioning of your body relative to the environment. Balance devices can provide valuable information about the terrain ahead and may warn you about upcoming obstacles that threaten to knock you on your rear!
- Increases your sense of safety and security. Confidence is the key to mobility, and balance devices have been shown to improve your sense of safety and security while walking.
One study evaluated 262 people over the age of 60 who had a history of falls and currently used a walker or cane. During the study, 75% of falls occurred when people WERE NOT using their balance device, and 100% of the falls that led to injuries requiring surgery were the result of not using the device! From this study we can conclude that using a walker or cane can prevent falls and injuries!
#2 Falls are bad…
So far we have established that the proper use of walkers and canes can decrease your risk of falling. It should be fairly self-explanatory, but let’s not forget how common and dangerous falls are…
- 1 in 3 Americans age 65 and older fall each year, and that number rises to 1 in 2 for Americans age 80 and older
- Each year, falls cause 2.8 million injuries, 800,000 hospitalizations, and 27,000 deaths
- Every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency department for an injury following a fall
- Every 19 minutes an older adult dies from injuries sustained during a fall
Don’t be a part of these statistics! If you have experienced issues with balance and falls, talk to your medical provider today!
#3 Negative feelings towards walkers and canes stop people from using them.
In the same study that showed the majority of falls occurred when people did not use their walkers and canes, researchers found another disturbing trend… The most common reasons for not using these devices were that they made the person feel old, or the person did not feel that they needed to use them!
Do not let negative feelings prevent you from using a device that can improve your balance and mobility, reduce your risk of falls, and in some instances even save your life!
Selecting the right walker or cane may seem like a daunting task, but I have done my best to make the decision as easy as possible for you! Visit the Osteoporosis Store for a small selection of approved walkers and canes.