Mobility devices are apparatuses that support the user’s mobility and help them move around. These include walkers, canes, wheelchairs, and even orthotics. They may help increase your independence, reduce residual disability, and slow the decline of certain functions.
- Rolling Walker
Rolling walkers help support mobility by providing balance and supporting the leg muscles. To move forward, apply force with your arms and make a step in the direction you wish to go. There are two types of walkers: 2-wheel walkers and 4-wheel walkers. Some walkers have seats which can allow you to take a break anywhere.
Walkers are a great mobility device for people who are not entirely immobile. However, when using a walker, the body uses the hips for balance instead of the ankles. This inadvertently leads to reduced ankle sway, which results in decreased ankle strength and flexibility, prompting a decline in mobility.
- Cane or Quad Cane
Canes are normally used to steady the body while in motion, contributing to improved balance and lower risk of falling. The quad cane is the best option for people who need a little support —using a cane when walking increases your base of support, providing you increased balance. When in motion, it causes your center of gravity to shift in the cane’s direction. This reduces postural sway which aids in mobility and balance.
Wheelchairs are great mobility devices if you are completely immobilized or get fatigued easily. There are different chair designs and options available in the market, but the most important thing is to ensure that a wheelchair is specifically designed for your needs and environment. The comfort of the person using the wheelchair is vital because poor fit can lead to discomfort. It can also cause back injuries, reduced mobility, skin breakdown, and affect how well they can propel the chair. Therefore, always consult with a healthcare professional in order to get the type of wheelchair that addresses your specific needs.
An orthosis is an artificial external device that is created to support a joint or body part. It is normally used to offer the wearer stability, protection, and support. An orthosis varies depending on the area of the body they are being worn and can be fabricated or custom-made. Ankle-foot orthoses are commonly prescribed to individuals recovering from a stroke. They are used to improve gait by providing support to the knee and ankle, helping to keep your toes from dragging on the ground when swinging that leg, and keeping you steady over that foot when you are putting weight on it. The main function is to help you become more independent with your activities of daily living (ADLs) and mobility. Just like a wheelchair, selecting the right device is essential to get the best support and results.
There are also orthoses that can be used if your muscles have become tight. Two types may help assist you in stretching and recovering the lost range of motion:
- Static orthosis: It cannot move and is normally used to apply force to a joint and hold it in a position to increase the passive range of motion.
- Dynamic orthosis: It is mobile and is worn to support the proper movement of a joint.
When prescribed, orthoses are used to maintain range of motion, manage pain, prevent contractures, protect tissues, support weaker muscles, prevent unwanted movement, and increase function.