Today I welcomed back an old friend that I have squirreled away in my garage for the past seven years. Over time I have gotten rid of most of my medical assistance devices such as my wheelchair, raised toilet, and lift-chair. I am never going to get rid of my beloved quad-cane.
When I was first diagnosed with Dermatomyositis back in 2007, my quad-cane became my most used piece of medical equipment. Even when I had to use a wheelchair for moving outside the home, the quad-cane was indispensable inside. At first it gave me the stability to move up and down stairs. When that simple task became impossible, it gave me the ability to move between kitchen, bathroom and the temporary bedroom we set up on the main floor of our house.
My right hip is once again getting progressively weaker. This week it got to the point where I was leaning over on my hip and my right foot was pointing out to the side instead of pointing forwards. I was walking like a drunken crab on a rolling boat. My hip started to hurt. It was time to bring out the cane!
Choosing the right cane for you is a conversation to have with your doctor and/or physiotherapist. For me a quad-cane offered a lot more stability over a single-point cane. But that stability comes at a price.
Pro: a quad-cane is self-standing which is important to remember as a fallen cane is difficult to pick up for those of us who struggle getting up from a crouched position.
Con: a quad-cane is heavier, which is something to consider if your arms are weak to begin with
If you decide on a quad-cane there are a variety of bases (how far the prongs are spread apart) to choose from. While a large-base cane is more stable, it is heavier and a lot less maneuverable (particularly up and down steps) than a small-base cane. I have a small-base quad-cane.
If you want to try using a quad-cane, there are a number of things to consider:
- Ensure the cane is the correct height. The cane handle should be at wrist height when you are in your walking shoes with your arm fully extended by your side. Most canes have adjustable height settings.
- Carry the cane in the opposite hand to your weaker foot/leg/side. While this might seem counter-intuitive at first, your arms and legs naturally swing opposite from each other. You want the cane to come forward when your bad leg comes forward.
- If the base of the quad-cane is reversible, the wider prongs should be closest to you.
- To prevent dropping the cane, consider attaching a cane hand loop.
It will take some practice to get used to it, particularly if your arm is weak. Click here for insturctions how to walk with a quad-cane.
You can buy a quad-cane at Walgreens.com, click here, or any medical supply store. Prices range from $30-$75.