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.


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






What is the best manual wheelchair?

Since becoming disabled, and especially since starting this blog, many friends think I am the best person to ask about disability aids, and I think I am quite good on the subject. The problem I have is when they say “What is the best manual wheelchair, electric wheelchair, walking frame or walking stick to get my mum?”

So What is the Best Manual Wheelchair?

It is a very good question, but not one I can answer. Why not? Because I can tell you what the best wheelchair, walking frame or walking stick is for me, and I can help your mum find the best one for her, but no-one can really decide what the best wheelchairs, walking frame or walking stick is for someone else, only guide them. If they cannot manage to work through the decision with help, only someone who knows them very well can choose. This also causes problems with families as if they have a carer who works closely with them, as they are the person to help choose. A son or daughter who sees them once a week will know less than a carer who sees them every day. A younger son or daughter who is also a carer will know their parent better than the eldest, who visits weekly. Children often take it as an insult that I don’t think they know their parent good enough, or someone knows them better.

My Example

A good example of this is in the UK Social Services Wheelchair Services gives out wheelchairs. I used this service for a self-propelled wheelchair a couple of years ago. I thought “a free wheelchair, that is great”. I had bought my own before and I buy my own now. “Why?” You might ask when I can get them for free. Because, when the ideal wheelchair for me would have been something like a ‘Z Tec Deluxe Folding Self-Propelled Aluminium Wheelchair’, just a basic, self-propelled, fold-able wheelchair. The person who was dealing with me decided I needed a different one and I thought she knew better so I accepted a non-folding Quickie wheelchair that she recommended. This one is no good for me at all as it gives me back and shoulder pain if I sit in it for too long, and I sit in it all day, at my desk.

It’s not a bad Wheelchair, Just a bad Decision

I know for some people it is ideal. It is the lightest wheelchair I have had and is easy to propel myself around the house. It also lets me sit up properly rather than slouch, which I prefer. Unfortunately, I need it to be OK for others to push me too as I have not got a lot of strength in my arms and also tire very quickly.  It is very difficult to dismantle and my husband cannot push it as he cannot see where the front wheels are, causing me to go down potholes and hit ridges. It is also very top-heavy, meaning anything he hits tips the wheelchair, and me, forward. It frightens my brother due to it being top-heavy, and even though I wear a seat belt to stop me being thrown out, he walks backwards down kerbs, ramps and any other downward slope. He says he is afraid the wheelchair will tip over with me in it. My parents cannot dismantle it and prefer a folding one. Only my daughter prefers it, due mainly to the weight, but also because she says I look comfier in it because I sit better in it.

New wheelchair

Now I have had to buy another wheelchair as well. As you might have guessed I bought the Z Tec Deluxe folding self-propelled aluminium wheelchair and it is so much better – for me and my carers. My daughter is fine with it as she understands everyone needs to be able to use it, which with the Z Tec wheelchair they can.

My Conclusion

I cannot understand how anyone can decide what I want, and need, in a wheelchair. I wonder if the lady from Wheel Chair Services will let me pick her next car for her because I am sure I know exactly what she wants! If you want what I chose, head over to eBay to buy yours.

Different Wheelchair Types

If you are ready for a wheelchair, either a replacement or a first one, what should you look for?

There are many wheelchair types, but they come in three different groups:

  • Manual wheelchairs
  • Electric wheelchairs
  • Buggies/scooters

Manual Wheelchairs.

Manual wheelchairs come in a variety of types.

Self-propelled wheelchairs

Self-propelled wheelchairs are the most common type of manual wheelchair, and the one most people recognise. They are not usually assisted by anything such as a battery or an auto propelling system. This type of wheelchair is ideal for someone who has reasonable control over their arms.

These chairs have large rear wheels with a push rim which allow the user to grip and propel the wheelchair on their own. Most of these are folding, which allows for more accessible storage when not in use and when travelling. Many also have removable back wheels which makes it possible to detach and place in a smaller boot (trunk).

You can also find ultra-lightweight chairs weighing 25 to 30 pounds and lightweight chairs weighing less than 40 pounds. These are good for travelling with your chair and folding it to place in a vehicle. They still have the large back wheel so the person can propel themselves and handles so they can be pushed. Usually, they are upholstered in nylon, and the lightest chairs do not always have a cushioned seat.

Transport Wheelchairs

These chairs are designed to be pushed by others rather than the user propelling themselves. They have small back wheels which the user cannot grip. You often see them in hospitals. They usually fold for storage. Standard transport wheelchairs can accommodate users up to 300 pounds, and heavy-duty transport chairs can be used for people who weigh more.

Hemi Height Wheelchairs

If the disabled person can use his feet to propel himself more successfully than his upper limbs, a hemi height chair has a lower seat to allow for this. Some wheelchairs are made on a dual axle so they can be raised to a standard height and lowered to a hemi height.

Heavy-Duty and Bariatric Manual Wheelchairs

Some people may need these heavy-duty wheelchairs due to their size or weight. These wheelchairs have a more substantial and sturdier frame and more generous seats. Models for larger patients can support up to 700 pounds and occasionally recline to distribute the user’s weight.

Tilt and Recliner Wheelchairs

Wheelchairs that tilt can be altered by a carer to a position that is comfortable for the user. Recliner wheelchairs may have a taller backrest that makes them comfortable when reclined.

Sport Wheelchairs

Sport for disabled people is becoming more popular, and if you want to play off-pavement sports or rugby or basketball, and many other sports, a sports wheelchair is built to be what you need. They are very manoeuvrable, and they can be customised to different sports.

Paediatric Wheelchairs

Paediatric wheelchairs are for children and feature a small frame with a narrow, shallow seat.

The handles can usually telescope to a height that is more comfortable for an adult pushing the chair.

Powered or Electric Wheelchairs

There are really only three types of powered wheelchairs.

Standard powered wheelchairs.

These powered wheelchairs usually come fitted with standard controls and seats, but they do vary between individual models and make. Some models will fold, and some dismantle to make it easier to transport them.

Standard Plus powered wheelchairs

These are the standard powered wheelchairs with many adaptations and accessories that can be fitted to them to help meet your needs and to make mobility easier for your precise disability. A specialist dealer can help what adaptations you need.

Custom-built powered wheelchairs

Custom-built powered chairs are built with various modifications and adaptations. They the most advanced technology so even with very limited movement it is probable that you’ll find an appropriate product. If you think you need a custom-built wheelchair, you should contact a specialist dealer who will help you decide what you need and build it for you.

Mobility Scooters

Mobility scooters are becoming more popular for disabled and older people.

A mobility scooter is probably the ideal choice for you if you can travel reasonably independently, getting on and off the mobility scooter on your own, and can use a bicycle type steering column or tiller. Disability scooters come in three different sizes: small, medium and large. Make sure that you choose the mobility scooter most suitable for your needs and lifestyle.

Small scooters

These are the lightest and most straightforward to transport. Small scooters usually dismantle into a few parts, allowing you to put it in a car boot(trunk). You need to make sure that any small scooter you lease can fit comfortably into your car if that is one of your requirements, and that you, or your carer, can lift it into the boot. These scooters are usually made with a lighter frame which makes them better for transporting, but this determines the limit to the amount of passenger weight they can carry and the distance they can travel, usually a maximum of about 10 miles, before they need recharging. Many small scooters fold or dismantle for storage and transportation and can be used in the home if you have adequate access. They usually have a lower maximum weight, generally up to 135kg or 21 stone. They are not suitable for road use.

Medium scooters (UK Class 2 and Class 3)

These are usually sturdier and can to transport more weight than the small scooters. The medium scooters can also travel at faster speeds, up to 6mph. However, this also makes them more difficult to fold or dismantle, so they are hard to transport in a car. Class 3 medium scooters can be used on UK roads if they are taxed. Medium scooters can generally a go a maximum of around 20 miles before recharging, and they can also carry a higher weight ranging from about 135kg to 150kg (21 to 25 stone), depending on which model you purchase. However, they do have a wider turning circle than smaller models.

Large scooters (UK Class 3)

These are suitable for longer distances and rougher surfaces and can be used on UK roads if taxed. These scooters can usually carry between 20 to 30 stone (up to a maximum of 250kg) in passenger weight and generally have larger seats. Due to the size of these scooters, you will need to have a lockable storage space for them. They are not easy to transport either. The majority of large scooters are classified as Class 3 so must have road tax which is provided free in the UK providing you do not have a car (only one free tax per person). They can go up to 8mph on the road, but in the UK, there is a 4mph limit on pavements. The battery range is much better too, averaging 25 to 30 miles between charging. They have a horn, lights and indicators.

Having a wheelchair can be exciting, embarrassing, annoying, good and lots more different emotions to different people. When my family, doctors, MS nurses, social services and others started telling me I needed a wheelchair I insisted I didn’t. I knew I was struggling, but I thought getting a wheelchair would make my walking worse. Now I know I need it and I am glad I got it. I say it but I now have three, depending on what I am doing and who I am with. My life is so much better now. Anyone out there not convinced by the people around them, I say try a wheelchair out. You can rent them from some places and you could possibly try it out in the home, or during a weekend away just to see it you can achieve more using less energy. I know I can.

If you require any further information, or would just like a chat about how you feel please contact me.



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?


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.


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.


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.