The key for optimal use is to get the cane fitted to at he right height. Ideally when you hang your arm by your side, your hand should hang just over the top of the cane, your wrist lining up with the very top of the cane. An adjustable cane is easiest to use when seeking the right height. Once you have established the height, when you are a long time user, you may choose to use a non-adjustable (cut to your specific height) cane or even a walking stick – to add a little style. When you grasp the top of the cane, your elbow should bend about 30 degrees. When you are using a cane because of weakness on one side of your body, place the cane in the hand of the stronger (opposite) side.
There are basically two type of crutch styles – under the arm (ancillary) or cuffed to the forearm (Lofstrand or Canadian crutches). A proper fit and some instruction on safe usage is important. Seek the assistance of a health care provider when first using crutches. Long time crutch users have found the style tip (rubber tip on the bottom of the crutch) and the grip style for your hand can add to overall comfort for long term use.
Walkers now come in many styles – pick-up walker (no wheels), Sliders with little skis or tennis balls on the rear legs, or rollator walkers with 4 wheels. Some walkers are three wheeled – triangular in shape (offering a little less support but not as bulky). 4 wheeled walkers come designed for primarily indoor use with 4 little wheels or much more robust walkers with 4 larger wheels, a full basket and even a fold down seat.
Hemiplegic and balance-impaired persons use the stick to give them a better sense of the vertical position, thereby lessening vertigo. Without the stick, it is easy to walk at an angle, and perhaps not move in a straight line. The stick is held in the stronger hand.
Muscle-weakened persons (with reduced strength or nerve action) need a stronger weight-bearing stick to take some of the load normally used by the afflicted leg. Canes are generally used in the hand opposite the injury or weakness. This may appear counter-intuitive, but this allows the cane to use for stability in a way that lets the user shift much of their weight onto the cane and away from their weaker side as they walk. Personal preference or a need to hold the cane in their dominant hand means some cane users choose to hold the cane on their injured side. Also serving this purpose are walkers, which are held in front of the user and allow the user to lean heavily on them.