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Safe use of walking equipment

Safe use of walking equipment

The correct use of a walking aid is not always as straightforward as it seems. The 'usual' way of using an aid may need to be adapted to suit you and your particular condition or circumstances. If you, or the person you care for, have reduced cognitive functioning, it may also be more difficult to learn, or remember how to use a walking aid.

Walking equipment may improve your mobility but if an inappropriate walking device is used, if incorrect techniques are adopted, or if the device is not suitable for a particular environment, your independence and safety may be jeopardised. A physiotherapist or occupational therapist should be able to give you appropriate teaching and advice when you are assessed.

Reducing the risk of falls

There are a number of actions that you can take to minimise your risk of a fall whilst using a walking aid.

Home environment
Remove all loose rugs, trailing flexes and clutter from the floor. Keep your access routes around the house clear at all times.

Stairs
If you have stairs in your house and use a walking aid, obtain a second one and keep one upstairs and one downstairs. Do NOT attempt to take a walking frame up and down stairs.

Standing from a chair
Do not attempt to use a walking frame or stick to rise from a chair. They are not stable enough. You should push up with your hands on the arms of the chair and only take hold of the frame or stick once standing. If necessary ask to practise this with a healthcare professional. Further information about getting in and out of a chair is available in our factsheet on Choosing a chair and chair accessories.

Wet floors
Walking equipment should not be used in wet floor areas. If you need to access a wet room or shower area, ask the advice of an occupational therapist. You may be able to install grab rails.

Footwear
Footwear should be well fitted, secure on your feet and supportive as you walk.

Maintenance
All walking equipment should be checked regularly for signs of wear and tear. Particularly vulnerable parts include the ferrules, hand grips and underarm pads. Replacement ferrules are usually available from the department who issued the equipment - or if the equipment is no longer safe to use, they should provide you with a replacement. However, if you bought the piece of walking equipment privately, replacement parts are usually available from the supplier where you purchased them from.


Further reading: DLF's factsheet Choosing walking equipment
Advice last checked: 26 January 2018 Next check due: 26 January 2021

All advice is either supported by references (cited in the text) or is based upon peer reviewed professional opinion. Our advice is impartial and not influenced by sponsors or product suppliers listed on the site.
Conflict of interest statement

References

  1. Department of Health 2001  National Service Framework for Older People
    View reference   Last visited:  17/12/2013 Evidence type: 2