Canes and quad canes furnish the patient with a degree of independence and prolonged mobility by transferring some functions, (primarily weight bearing), normally performed by the legs and/or feet to the arms, hands, and shoulders. Canes and quad canes assist not only in the distribution of weight but in balance and stability as well. The choice between a standard or quad cane depends upon the amount of additional support and stability needed.
Because of the many design and material changes to canes over the years, there is a wide variety of choices in these products. Consider the following when selecting a cane or quad cane:
Handgrips come in various sizes. Select one that is comfortable.
Shafts can be curved or straight. Curved shafts locate the handgrip directly over the tip of the cane and enhance stability and reduce fatigue.
Canes can be constructed of wood, metal, fiberglass, etc., which can affect the weight.
Quad canes provide greater stability than standard canes, but they are heavier.
Quad canes come in various widths at the base. Wide base models offer more support but will not fit on stairs.
Adjusting The Cane
As in all home medical equipment, proper adjustment is essential to achieve maximum benefit from the product. The individual who provides the cane is experienced in adjusting it properly to your height. Although some minor adjustment may become necessary, the right adjustment the first time will prevent the possibility of injury resulting from incorrect height adjustment or improper connections.
Note the following in regard to adjusting canes:
- The handgrip should be set at a height from the floor that incurs a slight 20 to 30 degree bend at the elbows when you are standing upright.
- Stand as erect as possible, (if you can), look straight ahead, and allow your arms to hang relaxed at your side as someone else adjusts the handgrip height. In this position, the grips should be set just above the wrists for the initial set up.
- If you cannot safety stand unaided, do not attempt to do so. Approximate the height until such time as a more accurate fitting can be accomplished.
- Make certain the adjustment mechanism is securely locked.
Using The Cane
When walking, always have the cane in the hand opposite the weaker or injured leg, regardless of whether you are left or right handed. Move the cane and the affected leg forward at the same time, and then lean on the cane to reduce the weight on the affected leg as you bring the stronger leg forward. Though seemingly awkward at first, this will become natural with a little practice.
Note the following in regard to walking with the cane:
If you have received instructions from your physician or therapist that differ in any way from the above information, follow those instructions explicitly. If you experience any functional problems with this product, discontinue use and call your First Health Medical Supply office for assistance.
- Do not attempt to negotiate stairs with any type of cane without the consent of your physician or therapist.
- It is important to achieve a good sense of stability and balance when using a cane or quad cane.
- First time users of a cane or quad cane should have another responsible person present for assistance if necessary.
- Take relatively short steps. Over striding can cause a loss of balance and subsequent falls.
- Inspect the rubber tips on the leg(s) frequently and replace worn or damaged tips promptly.
- The handgrips should not turn. If they do, replace them promptly.
- Check the height adjustment locking mechanisms regularly.
- If you are using a quad cane, walk with the flat side of the base toward you to avoid tripping over the two outwardly extended legs.