Skip to main content
Accessibility|Contact|Privacy|Terms of Service

Proper Fit of Walkers and Canes Can Prevent Fall Injuries in Elderly

  • Published: 2009-07-11 (Revised/Updated 2010-07-16) : Author: American Physical Therapy Association
  • Synopsis: Elderly adults who use canes and walkers as walking aids should be assessed and fitted by a physical therapist to avoid fall related injuries.

Main Document

Physical therapists say proper fit and use of walkers and canes can prevent fall-related injuries in elderly - Physical therapists can properly assess and fit walking aids to prevent injuries.

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is urging elderly adults who use canes and walkers as walking aids to be properly assessed and fitted by a physical therapist to avoid fall-related injuries. This advice comes in response to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (June 2009), which found that 47,000 senior citizens end up in emergency rooms each year due to falls from improper use and fit of walkers and canes.

The study, conducted by government researchers, examined six years of emergency room records and found that the walker was associated seven times more with injury-related falls than was the cane. Physical therapists advise that these results indicate a strong need for proper fit and assessment.

According to physical therapist and APTA member Cathy Ciolek, PT, DPT, GCS, many patients often borrow walking aids from friends and family, which can result in injuries. "We see many patients use borrowed canes, walkers, and crutches without adjusting the fit and height appropriately, which can cause discomfort and result in further injury," she said.

In addition to providing a proper fit, your physical therapist can assess your individual needs to ensure you are using the proper walking aid and that it is in proper working condition. "In some instances a cane may not be the safest option, and it would be best to use a walker. Your physical therapist can help make that decision," says Ciolek. She provides some general tips for those using a cane or walker as a walking aid:

The walker or cane should be about the height of your wrists when your arms are at your sides.

When using a walker, your arms should be slightly bent when holding on, but you shouldn't have to bend forward at the waist to reach it.

Periodically check the rubber tips at the bottom of the cane or walker. Be sure to replace them if they are uneven or worn through.

As experts in restoring motion and mobility in people's lives, physical therapists work collaboratively with physicians to ensure safe recoveries from illness or injury. Ciolek recommends seeing a physical therapist for an assessment and proper fit or asking for a referral to a physical therapist from your physician. Visit www.moveforwardpt.com to find a physical therapist near you.

Physical therapists are highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility "in many cases without expensive surgery or the side effects of prescription medications. APTA represents more than 72,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Its purpose is to improve the health and quality of life of individuals through the advancement of physical therapist practice, education, and research.In most states, patients can make an appointment directly with a physical therapist, without a physician referral. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and find a physical therapist in your area at www.moveforwardpt.com

Similar Topics

1 : Moterum MTip Crutch Tip Provides Mobility for All Terrains : Moterum LLC.
2 : KMINA Crutch Avoids Injury to Hands, Wrists and Shoulders : KMINA.
3 : Brain to Machine Interface Gets People with Paralysis Back on Their Feet : University of Melbourne.
4 : Completely Paralyzed Man Voluntarily Moves His Legs : University of California - Los Angeles.
5 : Crutches for the Beach - Sand-Pad Crutch Tips : Jerry Vasilatos.
From our Mobility Walking Aids section - Full List (10 Items)


Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.





1 : Teaching Baby Sign Language - Nita, Show Us More
2 : MitoQ Novel Antioxidant Makes Old Arteries Seem Young Again
3 : Telemedicine Helps Overcome Healthcare Gender Based Barriers
4 : Screen Reader Plus Keyboard Helps Blind, Low-Vision Users Browse Modern Webpages
5 : Our Digital Remains Should be Treated with Same Care and Respect as Physical Remains
6 : Tungsten: Concern Over Possible Health Risk by Human Exposure to Tungsten
7 : Student Loan Discharge Process for Disabled Veterans Made Easier
8 : Growing Bone and Cartilage Tissues for Humans from Flaxseed Like Particles


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.

© 2004 - 2018 Disabled World™