9 common mobility and accessibility aids
When recovering from surgery or an injury, experiencing issues with balance, and dealing with issues like arthritis or a physical disability, doctors may recommend mobility and accessibility tools. This could include various kinds of equipment to preserve mobility and help avoid injuries and falls. Being able to move and carry out daily tasks can be important for maintaining independence and self-esteem. So, here is a look at some of the common mobility and accessibility aids:
Crutches shift the body load from the legs to the upper body, offering better support than canes. However, they can be somewhat challenging to learn to use. Further, it is crucial to ensure that the crutches fit well, and one must learn to use them on different surfaces for seamless movement. Improper use could increase the risk of injury.
Canes are similar to crutches and disperse the load from the legs to the upper body. But they take less load off the lower body than crutches do and can exert immense pressure on the wrists and hands. This is a handy mobility aid for benefit people with balancing issues or those who are more prone to falls. Studies suggest that in the country, one in every 10 people over the age of 65 use canes. One can opt for quad, white, and forearm canes.
This mobility and accessibility equipment has a metal framework and four legs for support. In the country, about 4.6% of adults over 65 use these walking aids. Basic walkers will have a three-sided frame around the user. One has to lift the frame to place it ahead of them, take a step forward to meet it, and repeat the process. Some walkers come with glides or wheels on the legs’ base, meaning one can slide it instead of lifting it. So, it is one of the most beneficial mobility aids for people with limited physical strength. One can choose from rollators, knee walkers, and walker-cane hybrids.
Wheelchairs are designed for people who cannot walk or must not put pressure on their lower limbs. These are better mobility tools than walkers for those with extreme disabilities and those with limited mobility traveling long distances. The wheelchairs may be electrically powered, pushed by a companion, or propelled by the user. To enhance accessibility at home and public places, wheelchair ramps are installed at entrances and near staircases.
These come in handy during trekking by offering additional stability and improving coordination, balance, and posture. Walking poles can help people who do not require a lot of support but wish to relieve the burden on their knees and hips. The poles can be a great pick for people with arthritis.
Like wheelchairs, mobility scooters have a seat set atop three, four, or five wheels and come with footplates for the user’s feet. The scooters are battery-powered and come with steering wheels or handlebars to control direction. They are designed for people who do not have the flexibility or upper body strength to use a wheelchair.
These do not offer extensive support but can be beneficial tools when one has trouble feeling the ground or is dealing with neuropathy. The sticks help one walk with a natural gait and position.
Accessibility in healthcare
Adjustable examination table
The traditional fixed-height examination tables can be out of reach for people with mobility issues. So, hospitals and healthcare centers may have adjustable tables that can go as low as 17–19 inches above the floor to reach the wheelchair seat. This accessibility equipment helps transfer a patient from a wheelchair. A support rail or handle should be there on one side of the table during the examination to provide stability during the transfer.
Portable floor lifts
In a clinical setting, the most common accessibility equipment is portable floor lifts that come with a U-shaped base and wheels that allow it to move along the floor. So to facilitate a transfer, the base should fit around or go under the exam table. Some lifts can be operated by a single person, while others need two or more people. One of the biggest pros of portable floor lifts is that one can move them from one room to another.
Many establishments and public transportation systems install key accessibility equipment for older adults and those with mobility issues, like stair lifts and ramps for those using wheelchairs and handrails for support. Stair lifts are excellent tools to improve mobility and accessibility in multi-story homes as well.