Around one out of four American seniors uses a cane, walker, or some other form of mobility aid, according to a recent survey.
Almost 10 percent of seniors use more than one mobility aid.
Walkers, canes, and other aids can help increase mobility, reduce pain, and improve the mood of seniors or those with disabilities. Today, you’ll learn some interesting facts you may not have known about walkers and canes.
1. Walkers Only Came Out Around 70 Years Ago
Walkers haven’t been around forever.
The first US patent for a “walking aid” was awarded to British national William Robb in 1953.
In 1957, two additional patents were awarded to wheeled walker designs, and the first non-wheeled walker was patented in 1965.
2. Rollators Didn’t Come Around Until Much Later
Rollators are very popular as well, and are very useful for those with back issues.
They typically have a seat which allows them to double as a chair when you need to sit down and take a rest. Many have a basket for transporting groceries or other items.
Rollators were invented in 1975 by Aina Wifalk, a Swedish scientist and inventor who suffered from polio.
3. Knee Walkers Have Certain Benefits over Crutches
They require 25 percent less energy than crutches.
They also help keep the leg elevated, preserve bone strength, and distribute the body weight between both legs.
4. Walking Canes Have a Long History
Staffs were originally used by shepherds as an easy way to provide walking support when trekking up mountains. They could also be used to test the depth of swamps and puddles.
They were also useful for warding off attacking animals and thieves and controlling the flock.
Eventually, staffs and canes came to be used by nobility. Kings carried golden scepters.
Staffs were found in the tombs of the Pharaohs of Egypt and are depicted in ancient carvings going back to Etruscan times. The book of Esther mentions the golden scepter held by the King of Persia.
Eventually, canes came to be used as a fashion and social status statement. Different canes were used for day and evening uses.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth century, every man and woman of good social standing was expected to have a cane for every social event.
5. Canes Were Also Used for Religious Purposes
Canes were often used by religious authorities as well. Bishops held curved canes to indicate that they were shepherds of their congregations.
In Islam, carrying a cane or walking stick is considered a Sunnah (or customary) for an adult male.
Buddhist and Hindu monks would also use Khakkaras, or staffs, when chanting prayers, collecting alms, or wandering.
6. You Once Needed a License to Carry a Cane In England
There were certain etiquette rules regarding how to use and handle canes. Violating them was considered rude and ungenteel.
In fact, police would often confiscate walking sticks if these rules were violated. Examples of regulations included not walking with it under the arm, and not hanging it from a button.
7. Canes Were Used During Prohibition to Hide Alcohol
During the Prohibition Era, people came up with all sorts of techniques for hiding alcohol. One ingenious method was to walk around with a hollow cane with space designed to hold liquid.
You can still purchase flask canes, though they aren’t really necessary anymore.
Using canes to hide objects has a longer history, though. During the eighteenth century, when carrying swords openly started to become less fashionable, gentlemen and some fashionable ladies started using “swordsticks,” or hollow canes with a removable blade inside.
Gadget canes designed to hold compasses, snuffboxes, cosmetics, or other tools soon followed.
8. Canes Brought Silk to the World
Silk is said to have originated in China as far back as 5000 BC. However, for centuries and millennia, the Chinese had managed to keep the secrets of silk production a mystery.
This all ended in AD 550, when two Nestorian monks managed to smuggle silkworm eggs by concealing them in their hollowed out walking sticks. Silk then started being produced by the Byzantine and Persian empires.
9. White Canes Were Invented a Century Ago
White canes are usually used by people with impaired eyesight to guide them while they walk.
It all started in 1921, when James Biggs, a Bristol photographer who lost his eyesight after an accident, painted his walking stick white in order to make it more visible.
Ten years later, Guilly d’Herbemont launched a national white stick movement for blind people in France. In the US, Lion’s Club International started promoting a national campaign as well.
Eventually, President Lyndon B. Johnson, following a resolution from Congress, declared October 15th as White Cane Safety Day to promote awareness.
10. You Shouldn’t Use Your Cane on Your Injured Side
At first thought, it may seem to make more sense to use your walking stick on your injured side. However, that would shift the weight to your injured foot, which could prevent healing.
Instead, use the walking stick on your stronger side so that your body weight is shifted away from your injured side.
Don’t hold the stick too far away from your body, as that will cause you to lean forward and maintain bad posture.
11. You May Be Using Your Cane Wrong on Stairs
When going up stairs, put down your stronger leg first so that you can use it to balance your weight while you pull up your weaker leg and walking stick.
When going down stairs, put down the cane first, then your weaker leg, and then your stronger leg.
12. Not All Canes Are Equal
When choosing a cane, get one that is of the right height and is easy to hold.
Make sure to get one that is designed to support your weight and not one that is just for aesthetics.
Final Words –
Walking is an essential human need and has many health benefits.
Fortunately, there are many aids available for those who find it difficult. Getting back to normal living and walking isn’t a problem anymore. All you need is to find the right walking aid that fulfills your need well.
I love all things fun. Drop in sometime and you’ll know what I mean. For living and out of passion, I write and blog. Currently, I am writing for Meddentsafety and other top blogs. Twitter – @nikky_watson