What mobility aid is right for me?
Did you know that nearly half of the New Zealanders living with a disability have identified as having limited mobility? Mobility aids can improve a person’s mobility and independence and, therefore, also their daily living.
There are many different types of mobility aids. The most popular aids tend to be smaller items that help the user walk, like a cane or crutch. Here are some of the things to consider when choosing the right mobility aid to meet your needs.
Walking sticks are great to help people with their balance while walking. People using walking sticks still need to have a good level of upper and lower body strength. There are many types of walking sticks available – including crutches, seat sticks and wooden walking sticks. It is very important that the walking stick is used at the correct height for the individual or it might not be of benefit at all.
Rollators have four wheels and come with a seat. They are great for people who are quite active but can’t walk for long periods of time and need to occasionally stop for a rest.
Walkers, or ‘Zimmer frames’, are for inside use. They come in lots of forms and suit different degrees of mobility loss. Some are wheel-less and need to be lifted as the user walks along – which means a good amount of upper body strength is needed. Wheeled walkers give both stability and support and require less upper body strength. Most walking frames can now be folded down for transport.
Wheelchairs are useful for people who find walking difficult or impossible. There are three main types of wheelchairs:
- Self-propelling wheelchair: Used by people with good upper body strength, who can push their own weight around for long periods of time.
- Transit wheelchair: Requires someone else to push the person sitting in the chair.
- Electric wheelchair – used by those with minimal upper or lower body strength who are likely to be in the chair for longer periods. Most now break down into transportable pieces and have good options for charging.
There is such a wide range of mobility scooters now available to suit all sorts of requirements, from small indoor scooters to heavy duty long distance scooters.
Here are some things to consider:
- Is it for indoor or outdoor use?
- What’s the terrain like?
- Does it need to be transportable in a car?
- What about comfort? How long is the user going to be using it each time?