Following a below knee amputation, the use of walking aides can be quite contentious issue amongst physical therapists and amputees alike.
In this article, I’m going to consider some of the common walking aides in use and discuss their effect on below knee amputees and how best to use them to your advantage.
When you are using a walking stick, the stick should be placed on the ground at the level of your big toe. Placing the stick too far forward will cause you to lean forward from your hips and reach. This means you will be unable to take an equal sized step with your intact foot and your gait will be uneven.
Which hand do I use the stick in?
The hand that you use the stick in depends on the goals you have set yourself for walking. If you ever want to walk without the use of the stick, then it is easier if you use the stick on the same side as your leg prosthesis. This means that you will be transferring your weight more effectively onto your leg prosthesis, so your balance and muscle strength will accommodate quicker to full weight bearing and you will be “stick free” in no time.
If you are using the stick for reasons of pain, safety or joint instability then you will be better off using the stick in the opposite hand to your leg prosthesis. Your stick should still be placed on the ground level with where your big toe would be on your prosthetic foot. Remember it is often better to walk well and without a “limp” using a stick, than to walk with a large limp that is likely to give you lower back pain in the long run.
What is the correct length for my stick?
The top of your stick should be at the level of your hip joint, you can feel a bump on the side of your thigh at hip joint height.
If you have any questions regarding the suitability of your walking aide, always consult your clinic physical therapist.
Until next time … Cathy … The Amputee Coach
PS Please leave your comments, feedback and suggestions below!
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