Walking Aids for Disabled People or People with Disabilities

Are we disabled people or people with disabilities?

This question confuses many people, and indeed it is more about language than disability or people. Language and the words we use are imperative. They shape the way we see ourselves and the way people view us. Many people I have come across go by the ‘people with disabilities’ is putting the person first. I do not see it that way. We are disabled people. We are disabled by many things, but not usually ourselves.

As Titchkosky and Michalko (2014:101) pointed out; people may subscribe to one particular story of disability. An important story today says that disability is a social phenomenon produced by a society’s failure to respond adequately to impairment. This story, however we judge it, does not eliminate other dominant storytellers, such as medicine, that tell the story of disability as something unwanted that lurks in an individual and must be rooted out or managed.

Disability is an identity that has been hotly contested since the 1970s it the UK. In 1975, an early disability rights organisation in the UK,  Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS) claimed “in our view it is society which disables physically impaired people. Disability is something imposed on top of our impairments by the way we are isolated and excluded from full participation in society.”

In 1983, Mike Oliver, the disabled academic, coined the phrase “social model of disability” about these idea’s building on the distinction between impairment and disability suggested by UPIAS. Oliver never meant the ‘social model of disability’ to be THE theory of disability, but a starting point in changing how society views disability.

The ‘social model’ was then developed more by both academics and activists in Australia, the UK, the US and other countries, and came to include all disabled people, including those with learning difficulties/learning disabilities, mentally disabled, and people with emotional, mental health or behavioural problems.

A fundamental part of the ‘social model’ concerns equality and is a reaction to the more dominant ‘medical model’ which believes the body should be fixed so it can fit in with society.

The ‘social model’ focuses on changes in society including:

  • Attitudes, such as being more positive towards people with mental impairments and not underestimating the quality of life possible with those impairments.
  • Social support to help deal with the barriers, aids, resources and positive discrimination to help overcome them, such as a ‘buddy’ to explain the culture of and at work for an autistic member of staff.
  • Information, and making sure it is supplied in a format the person needs such as large print, braille, or explaining more or simpler.
  • Physical structures, such as installing ramps and lifts, and
  • Flexible working hours for a person who has panic attacks travelling in the rush hour, or someone with a sleep disorder.

The ‘social model’ argues against disabled people needing to be ‘fixed’(medical model), but rather society needs fixing.

So where do you buy your walking aids?

There are many places you can buy walking aids online and it does make things much simpler for many people, me included. It might be nice to go to a shop or showroom and have a look around and maybe even try a few, but it is not always as simple as it sounds for us. I know when I go out, sometimes to a rugby match, sometimes shopping, maybe even meeting friends for a drink and a chat, even though I am in the wheelchair it still tires me out. I nearly always take a PA with me, so it is not from the manual wheeling, it is from so many things we used to take for granted. Personally, my problems start with my cognitive thinking. I have problems with many aspects of thinking such as my short term memory, attention span, planning, decision-making, understanding and concentration. This also exhausts me just by trying to think. This fluctuates from day to day so I cannot tell you if next Saturday I am going to be OK for wheelchair shopping or not.

It is also difficult for me to go out on the spur of the moment as I need to organise myself and find a PA. Then transport and working out the best route to walk after we have parked. The UK roads and causeways are notoriously bad for cracks, potholes and other problems and there are streets I cannot go down. There areas where I cannot cross the road as there is a drop curb on one side of the road, but not on the other.

This is why I buy most of my products online. Grocery shopping is much easier online these days, and although I miss the browsing, I think I spend less as I am not as tempted by things I see. Toiletries I buy either with my grocery shopping or from somewhere else, but still by making a list and following it.

The same goes for any walking aids for disabled people. It is much better to write a list of what you need and follow it so you don’t get distracted by things you don’t need and then forget what you do need. I can no longer shop on the high street for important things due to the problems with my cognitive thinking. If I manage to concentrate until I have all the facts, I still cannot make a decision.

If I was shopping for a new walking stick, I would need one with:

  • Comfort handle
  • Adjustable size

So I would probably choose:

 

A new wheelchair would include:

  • Manual
  • self propelling
  • lightweight
  • Foldable

So I could choose:

or this:

or this:

or this:

You also need to check seat size is the right one for you.

Just make your list out and search.

Conclusion.

I suggest doing the shopping the easiest way for you. I used to check what I needed in a store, then go online once I had decided, but now I know what I want and need I don’t bother going to a store at all. I can find everything I need online and usually start with Amazon and EBay. Don’t waste your energy

 

 

 

 

 

Disability walking aids – what do you choose?

If you begin to have difficulty walking it is time to start looking at disability walking aids; this can be a momentous decision in anyone’s life. There are many walking aids you can look at, and there are many types. The first thing you need to decide is, do you need a walking stick or a crutch?

Here are a few things to think about before you buy

Types of walking sticks.

There are many types of walking sticks out there, but which one is right for you? The things you need to consider include:

  • What design of handle do you need?
  • Material do you want it made from?
  • What other features do you want?

Handles

The handle of you walking stick is an integral part of the walking stick for your use and here are some of the more common types to look at.

  • Tourist, crook or hook – This is the handle most commonly associated with a walking stick, and the oldestcrook handle walking stick design. It is an inverted ‘J’ which can be used in either hand and can be hung over the arm when not in use.
  • Fritz and Derby – Both the Fritz and Derby are open-ended, almost straight handles which can be used in either hand. People with arthritis, or sensitive hands many prefer these handle as fingers have more space to move.
  • Ergonomic and Fischer. These are sometimes referred to as comfort grip, due to their shape. They increase the ease of the grip for the user which is very important for users with disabilities which also involve their hands or wrists and better spread the load from the user into the stick itself. You need to buy the left or right-handed walking stick.

Material

The two most common types of walking stick material are, most obviously, wood and aluminium. Wooden walking sticks are usually ash, cherry or oak as they are beautiful to look at and very strong. However, there are rarer types of wood from all over the world, and you can find some beautiful wooden sticks. Aluminium is a newer, and lighter, type of stick and there are a lot of different coloured and patterned ones on the market.

Other features

Walking sticks have lots of other features to consider too. Do you want to be able to fold it when it is not in use? How about adjusting it to the right size? Do you need a shooting stick, which turns into a one-legged perch, or a folding chair to rest a while? What about an umbrella stick for days out? The choice is endless. You can get decorative walking sticks made to match your outfit, and you can even combine two features such as an adjustable folding walking stick.

You can have them handmade, to your specifications or buy them as a premade standard issue, and you can also purchase specialised walking sticks such as extra long or extra short.

Types of crutches

Again there are many types of crutches, and again you can have them made of wood or aluminium. The styles are very different though and depend on the support you need. Again you can have different colours and patterns on the aluminium ones.

  • Underarm or axillary crutch – Underarm or axilla crutches are used by putting the pad beneath the armpit and against the ribs and holding the grip. They are used to provide support for patients who have a temporary limitation on walking. Often with underarm crutches, some kind of soft pad is used to reduce armpit injury.
  • Forearm or elbow crutch – A forearm or elbow crutch (also commonly has a cuff at the top which goes around the forearm. This cuff is usually made of plastic or metal and can be half or full circle. You use it by inserting the arm into the cuff and hold onto the grip.
  • Forearm crutches are the most common type used in Europe, whether it is for the long or short term. In other parts of the world, forearm crutches are more likely to be used by people with long-term disabilities, and axillary crutches more often used for short-term disabilities.
  • Platform – These are not as common and used by people with reduced hand grip due to cerebral palsy, arthritis, or other conditions. The arm is strapped on a level platform, and the hand rests on a grip which, can be angled to a comfortable position for the person using it.
  • Leg support – These unusual crutches are for people with an injury or disability affecting one lower leg only. The affected leg is strapped into a frame that holds the lower part of the leg off the ground while transferring the load from the ground to the user’s knee or thigh. This style of crutch has the advantage of not using the hands or arms while walking. A possible benefit is that upper thigh weakening is reduced due to the affected leg remaining in use. These crutch designs are unusable if you have a thigh, pelvic or hip injury and you should check with your physiotherapist before purchasing if you have a knee injury.

Conclusion

Buying a walking stick or crutch, especially your first walking stick or crutch, can be a confusing, and sometimes intimidating process. Many people do not want their first walking aid as they do not want to look disabled, even though they are. A walking stick or crutch is only a disability walking aid and will most likely slow down the progression of most injuries and help cure many, so you don’t have to fear buying one. It is to get you from ‘A’ to ‘B’ like a car, only buying a new walking aid is much cheaper but a lot less exciting.