Getting around

Maintaining mobility and autonomy day-to-day is essential to an individual’s well-being, irrespective of their age or state of health. Walking sticks, walking frames or rollators: there are a number of solutions to help.

Mobility problems can arise in numerous situations in which locomotor capacities are reduced: injuries following an accident, disability, rheumatological or neurological diseases, advanced age, etc. Technical aids can help maintain a degree of autonomy and freedom of movement, at the same time reducing the risk of falls.

“Walking aids”: extra supports

Sticks and crutches are the lightest types of walking aid:

  • Simple walking stick, particularly in the case of osteoarthritis affecting one knee or one hip;
  • Crutch with forearm supports, often used following a sprain or fracture;
  • Underarm crutches for people with fragile arms or wrists, etc.

In the event of more severe locomotor impairment or fear of falling, 4-point support may be required: a rollator is a walker with wheels, with some models also fitted with baskets, seats, shelves, etc. Walking frames or fixed walkers, which are very stable, are mainly indicated for moving around indoors in the event of balance problems.

Walking aids should be adapted to the individual on the basis of their disease or condition, their lifestyle, their environment... and their own preferences.

Wheelchairs for comfort

A wheelchair may be necessary in a variety of situations: convalescence following a fracture or sprain, paralysis, general weakness… They come in various types, including folding, electric, self-propel or manual to be pushed by a carer. The wheelchair should be chosen with the health professional (doctor, occupational therapist) and patient, based on criteria such as:

  • The person’s degree of autonomy and physical and mental capacities;
  • The frequency and duration of wheelchair use;
  • The journeys envisaged;
  • The layout of the individual’s home, etc.

Walking aids and wheelchairs can be prescribed by any doctor and the cost is covered by national health insurance schemes.

Documentary sources
Hubert de Barmon, Pr Jean Paysant DES : Médecine physique et de réadaptation DIU : Médecine de rééducation Module : MPR et Appareillage, avril 2011.