When/why does one need to start using a cane? I have no significant difficulty with ambulation for more than 30 minutes on a treadmill though my right leg gets fatigued with any incline and I have trouble carrying anything upstairs. I did not consider this a major problem but I have fallen 3 times in the last 6 months with minor injuries. My new neurologist suggested I consider using a cane. I feel that my falls are due more to attention lapses than problems with my legs even though I really try to be careful and pay attention. How would a cane help this?
There are many different reasons one might begin to use a cane. One of them certainly is falls. There are many factors that might contribute to a fall, but if you are falling frequently, or having near falls frequently, it might be time to consider the use of a walking aide. Another reason to start using a cane is if you begin to notice a change in the way you are walking. For example, if you are starting to walk with “a limp” it might be time. If you are starting to have pain in your legs, or your back when you are walking, it might be time to consider using a cane. Another big indication that it may be time for a cane (or other device) is if you begin to rely on walls or furniture when you are walking. This is a huge indication that you are already seeking out support from an external source, so a cane or device would be helpful for you.
Regardless of the scenario, if you have been considering using a device, or if it has been recommended to you; I would STRONGLY recommend you seek out the advice of a physical therapist. There are MANY different types of assistive devices (like a cane) out there, and there are many ways to use them. Choosing the right one for you, and using it appropriately, is of utmost importance for your safety. A physical therapist will be able to help decide what device is best for you, and will be able to show you how to use it correctly.
Additionally, a physical therapist can help determine what is causing the changes in your walking ability, and may be able to help you fix it! It could be muscle weakness, changes in balance, or inadequate flexibility. So, if you think you might need a cane, let a physical therapist help you!
Here is a blog to read on how to find a physical therapist who is knowledgeable about MS: READ MORE
Sarah Wargo, DPT
Mt. Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital