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When to Use Walking Aids
Last review: 08/12/10  Kay Zetkin
There are many factors that contribute to the possession and use of walking aids. From childhood, almost all of us have been in a situation wherein we have needed and relied on walking aids, at certain times in our lives and during certain periods of time.

Several factors may be due to leg injuries and bone dislocations that resulted from accidents, sports-related injuries and even those as simple as sprains. Some people also possess and use walking aids due to acquiring diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, which primarily affect the bones.

These factors became apparent when the Center for Rehabilitation and Rheumatology at Amsterdam, The Netherlands spearheaded the conduct of a medical investigation on the possession and use of walking aids among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or osteoarthritis (OA). The medical investigation was also conducted in order to identify factors contributing to possession and actual use of the walking aids.

Method of investigation induced was through a random sampling of 640 patients with RA or OA. They derived this number from a database of 6,500 registered patients. A standard questionnaire sheets on possession and use of walking aids were released to the patients for answering. Overall, 410 or 64% of the target 640 patients completed the said questionnaire. Among the 410 patients, 223 have RA and 87 have OA. The assessment on demographics, disease-related characteristics and information about possession and use of walking aids was completed as based on the patients’ answers. In determining which factors are associated with the possession and use of walking aids, logistic regression analyses were used.

The result of the study was that forty nine (49%) of the OA patients owned a walking aid. The aids they most frequently possess vary – from canes, forearm crutches, walkers and orthopedic footwear. Age and disability were the factors associated with their possession of walking aids. Meanwhile, in the group with rheumatoid arthritis, factors associated with their possession of walking aids are age, education, frequency of pain and disability.

Approximately 30% of patients do not use their walking aids. The actual use of an aid were determined by higher age, a high intensity of pain, more disability, decrease in morning stiffness by the aid, and a positive evaluation of the aid.

As far as the medical investigation’s findings are concerned, almost half of the patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis possess walking aids. The need for the walking aids was determined because of the following common factors: disability, pain and age-related impairments. Those who do not use the walking aids were mostly because of less need for it, negative outcome and negative evaluation of the walking aid.

This medical investigation shows that most individuals with RA or OA, will, depending on several determinants, sooner or later, are going to need walking aids for support. It would also help to come up with new walking aid models that would particularly address the needs of individuals with RA or OA. -30-

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About the Author
Kay Zetkin discovered the pleasure of writing through her daily journals as a teen-ager. Writing in it helped sort out her thoughts, relieve her feelings and record what she observes of the world.

For her, writing is an effective tool to express your viewpoints... To write is already to choose, thus, writing should be done along with a critical mind and a caring soul. She hopes to become more professional, skilled and mature in her craft.