Common Mobility Aid Devices: A Guide
There is a huge range of mobility abilities among human beings. A large variety of mobility aiding devices has been developed over the years in order to help people with the reduced ability get to where they need to go. Here is a brief guide to the most commonly used types of mobility devices.
The humble walking stick is perhaps the oldest mobility aid still in use. The use of sticks as a mobility aid likely predates history. There is written evidence to suggest that ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Sumerians all used walking sticks during the Bronze Age. While walking sticks are useful, they can be relatively painful to use for long periods if a person needs to rest lots of weight on the stick.
Crutches alleviate some of this pain. They are essentially walking sticks that are modified for long-term use after an injury. There are two main kinds of crutch: the armpit crutch and the wrist crutch. Armpit crutches rest under the armpit to relieve hand pain in use. Wrist crutches have a circular wrist support for similar purposes. Despite being designed for comfort, crutches can still be painful to use on long journeys.
Walking frames are one of the key medical supplies for nursing homes and outpatient physiotherapy units. They allow a person to rest most of their body weight on their arms during walking. This can allow people who are recovering from an injury or who have weakened legs and back muscles to begin walking again. Walking frames are simple, sturdy, and incredibly useful.
Wheelchairs are immensely useful mobility aids that allow people autonomy in cases where they would be completely unable to have freedom in the past. There are many distinct kinds of wheelchairs – each suited to a different level of bodily control. Push wheelchairs rely upon the upper body strength of the user. Electric wheelchairs are suitable for people with reduced strength and movement ability and typically use an armrest-mounted joystick. Some electric wheelchairs can be controlled using breath and even EEG readings. The development of an effective EEG-controlled wheelchair is still ongoing.
Electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters have a great deal in common, but they also have a few things that set them apart. The first difference that is easy to spot relates to the vehicular nature of the aids. While wheelchairs are clearly furniture-based, mobility scooters are clearly vehicles. They are controlled using handlebars in much the same way as a moped. Mobility scooters also do not feature any method of being externally controlled – they are always guided by the driver. They may also contain powerful motors that enable relatively quick travel. Mobility scooters are popular with people that can move under their own power but who would struggle to undertake long journeys or stand for long periods. Mobility scooter modification is a relatively popular pastime. The fastest modified mobility scooter reached speeds in excess of 180 kilometers per hour!