87% of survey respondents stated that they wouldn’t use mobility aids because of concerns of how they would be perceived. This is shocking, especially when you consider how useful they are in lengthening independence.
Whether due to injury, illness or age, mobility aids can offer a new lease of life, giving you confidence when out on your own or even just doing household chores.
We believe that anything that improves the quality of life is a good thing, so we have answered some common questions to help you take the leap and invest in your first mobility aid.
What are the different types of mobility aids?
There are seven types of mobility aids. There are a couple you may not have considered, yet all of them come with their own benefits.
||Use one or two to transfer your weight to your upper body.
They can be used for short-term recovery following an accident or longer-term to help with illness or age.
|Guide dogs||N/A||Guide dogs are service animals that assist individuals who are visually impaired or blind to navigate obstacles.|
||These are typically battery-powered devices, similar to a wheelchair.
They are useful for individuals with low flexibility or upper body strength and would struggle to steer a manual wheelchair.
Training is usually available for first-time users.
||Canes are useful for people at risk of falling, are experiencing balancing issues, or have a visual impairment.
White canes refer to a visual impairment whereas red striped canes signify that an individual has both a hearing and visual impairment.
||A walking frame offers more support than a walking stick and provides stability and balance.
Some frames come with a seat and can be static or wheeled.
||These assist individuals who are unable, or struggle, to walk.|
||These modifications are designed to help users get around the home, or in and out if they utilise a wheelchair.|
The type of mobility aid you opt for will depend on your needs.
How do I know if I need a mobility aid?
You may know in yourself when it’s time to consider a mobility aid, or perhaps your doctor or carer suggests that you may benefit from additional assistance. Additional signs can include:
- Experiencing two or more falls within a three to six month period
- Feeling exhausted or weakened easily due to a diagnosis such as MS or following a stroke
- Suffering from chronic pain when out and about
At this point, you can open discussions with your GP on the best aid to try until you find the best solution for you.
How do I choose a walking aid?
It’s important to remember that there isn’t necessarily one walking aid that will solve all of your problems. For example, it may be that a cane, walking stick or even mobility modification is sufficient when you are at home, but won’t help you when spending a significant amount of time outside. You may want to consider a walking stick in the house and an electric wheelchair for outdoor use in this example.
We recommend having an honest discussion with your doctor and keeping an open mind. If the first solution you try doesn’t suit you, you can always try something else and continue the cycle until you find the support that works for you. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Can I get mobility aids on the NHS?
The short answer is, yes, you can obtain some mobility aids via the NHS, but not all of them.
For example, you could be entitled to an NHS wheelchair. You will have to consult your GP, who will refer you for an assessment. This assessment will ascertain whether you require a wheelchair, and which type will benefit you most.
You may also be able to borrow a wheelchair for a short time; after an operation, for example. You can also borrow a walking stick or frame; however, you may need to pay a deposit.
Unfortunately, mobility scooters aren’t generally available through the NHS. However, there are grants available that can help with the costs of purchasing one.
How do I return equipment to the NHS?
When the NHS issues you a mobility aid, there should be a barcode with a telephone number you can call for advice on getting your mobility aid back when you no longer need it. The mobility aid can then be passed on to someone else to use.
Mobility aids are designed to give you a new lease of life and increase your independence.