According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four adults in the United States has a disability that affects the way they live. Out of these, one in seven Americans has the most common type of disability: mobility.
If you suffer from mobility conditions, your physician should recommend which mobility aid may be best for you and your condition. Here are all the available mobility aid options and when these are used.
Mobility scooters are battery-powered devices with up to five wheels. Think of it as a smaller version of a motorcycle or an electric scooter with a chair. New mobility scooters have a range of features like heavy-weight capacity, all-terrain, or two-person vehicles. ;
This is the ideal option for people who have difficulty walking and do not have the upper body strength or flexibility to maneuver a wheelchair. However, the rules of using mobility scooters in public places (indoor and outdoor) can vary between areas, so be sure to check your local laws to see how accessible places can be if you’re riding a mobility scooter.
Around one in every 10 American adults over the age of 65 use a cane. These help shoulder one’s body weight so that the legs have to carry less weight while the hands, wrist, and upper body shoulder more.
Special types of canes include white canes (used to help people with visual impairments), quad canes (for greater stability), and forearm canes (for those with hand and wrist conditions to shift the weight to the rest of the arm).
Crutches are used by those with short-term injuries like a broken leg, but it can also be used by those with permanent mobility conditions. These help transfer the weight from the legs to the upper body. It can be used as one piece for one side of the body or used as a pair.
Different types of crutches (axillary, lofstrand, and platform) have different designs based on a person’s condition. Take note that prolonged use of underarm crutches can lead to excess pressure on your armpit nerves.
Wheelchairs are for those who cannot walk completely or for long distances. It is much more affordable than the mobility scooter and can either be manually moved by the user, pushed by someone else, or electrically powered.
Aside from those who cannot walk, it is the better option for those who should not put weight on their legs, compared to canes and crutches where some amount of weight is still on their legs. Around 2.7 million Americans use wheelchairs, and it’s expected to grow given the aging baby boomers increasing the elderly population.
Before using these mobility aids, it’s always best to get a doctor’s opinion in which one is best for your condition. Studies show that only a third of mobility aid users receive their aid from a medical professional, and only 20 percent receive training to use it properly. This has led to a higher risk of injury due to improper use.