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Wooden Cane
This article is about a type of crutch. For walking sticks used for non-medical purposes, see Walking stick. For other uses, see Cane (disambiguation).

A cane (or walking stick) is a simple crutch to help balanced movement or to help an injured or disabled person walk.

Hemiplegic and balance-impaired persons use the stick to give a better sense of vertical position while lessening vertigo. Without such a stick, one may perhaps not move in a straight line. The stick is held in the stronger hand.


Parts of medical canes

Different medical needs have different specifications for walking canes. The standard cane has four basic parts.[1] These parts vary depending on the needs of the afflicted.

  • Handle The handle of a cane is extremely important to the user. Many different styles exist, but the most common are the Tourist, or crook handle, the Fritz Handle and the Derby Handle. Others include padded, offset handles and leather-wrapped handles that are soft and easy to grip, and ergonomic palm-grip handles that may be more comfortable for sufferers of arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Collar The collar of a walking cane is often only a decorative addition made for stylistic reasons, but often more firmly secures the cane handle to the shaft.
  • Shaft The Shaft of the cane is also very important to the afflicted, as they may require a lightweight handle often made of aluminum or carbon-fiber composites, or a heavy-duty handle made of hardwoods.
  • Ferrule The tip of a cane provides traction and added support when the cane is used at an angle. Many kinds of ferrules exist, but most often is a simple, ridged rubber stopper. Users can easily replace a ferrule with one that better suits their needs.

Anything other than a typical cane may have more parts as the device becomes more complicated. For instance, a quad cane has a base attached to the shaft that provides added stability by having four ferrules, and an adjustable cane may have two shafts to create a telescoping effect to allow adjustment for multiple sizes.
All cane users who need a walking cane for medical reasons should always consult their medical professional before choosing the style that is right for them. Research on cane types for different medical purposes is extensive and readily available to any medical professional.

Types of canes

  • White canes: specially for assisting the visually impaired, these are longer and thinner and allow the user to "feel" the path ahead. They also alert others, such as motorists, to know the user is blind and therefore use caution.
  • Folding canes: have several joints, allowing them to be folded into a shorter length when not in use.
  • Quad canes: have four legs at the bottom, allowing them to stand freely, and offering a more stable base for standing.
  • Tripod canes: open in tripod fashion. Often available with an attached seat.
  • Adjustable canes: feature two or more shaft pieces for a telescoping effect that allows the user to lengthen or shorten their walking cane to fit to size.


White Cane
  • The most common accessory, before or after purchase or manufacture, is a hand strap, to prevent loss of the stick should the hand release its grip. These are often threaded through a hole drilled into the stick rather than tied around.
  • A clip-on frame or similar device can be used to stand a stick against the top of a table.
  • In cold climates, a metallic cleat may be added to the foot of the cane. This dramatically increases traction on ice. The device is usually designed so it can be easily flipped to the side to prevent damage to indoor flooring.
  • Different handles are available to match grips of varying sizes.
  • Rubber ferrules give extra traction on most surfaces.


Muscle-weakened persons (with reduced strength or nerve action) need a stronger weight-bearing stick to take some of the load normally used by the afflicted leg. Canes are generally used in the hand opposite the injury or weakness. This may appear counter-intuitive, but this allows the cane to be used for stability in a way that lets the user shift much of their weight onto the cane and away from their weaker side as they walk. It also allows for fluid movement that mimics walking, as the hand opposite the leg generally sways forward in normal human locomotion. Personal preference, or a need to hold the cane in their dominant hand means some cane users choose to hold the cane on their injured side.[2] Also serving this purpose are walkers, which are held in front of the user and allow the user to lean heavily on them.

See also

External links


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