This I Believe

Nate - Centennial, Colorado
Entered on September 6, 2006
Age Group: 65+

In her 80’s my mother’s balance was not good. I made a walking stick for her. She liked it, called it Waltzing Matilda. Now I am age 82 and my balance is not functioning well. I need a physical support to prevent falls and injuries. I have studied the cane and the walking stick as physical supports. Medical researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Harvard medical School Publications have commented affirmateively.

Abstract 7/19/06      Physical Support Prevents Falls and Injuries.

Injuries caused by falls are a large factor in health of the aging populace. Falls occur when physical support is absent or inadequate, letting gravity slam a person onto an injuring surface. Anti-gravitation devices, the cane, walking stick, walker and wheel chair can prevent falls and injuries. The cane and the walking stick are the most commonly used aids. The website of the Orthopedic Surgeons reports that falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries to older persons in the U.S. Each year, more than eleven million people over age 65 fall – one of every three senior citizens. Treatment of the injuries and complications associated with these falls costs the U.S. $20.2 billion annually. A serious problem now, falls could reach epidemic levels as the population ages. The CDC concurs.

Patients are often told to “get a cane” with no idea that it is a collapsible tool. It is short, about 50% of a person’s height and is poorly controlled by the weak muscles of the hand. The cane supports weight only if pointing directly at the shoulder. It is inherently unstable and unsafe, not a reliable support.

“Get a cane” is not the best medical advice.

    The walking stick or staff is a proven practical support used world-wide for thousands of years. It is controlled by the stronger muscles of the shoulder. This gives a person a more stable mobile base. This “Third Leg” gives better support than a cane when walking on level ground or uneven terrain, when going up or down stairs and when arising from a deep, soft chair or from a fall. In a fall a good stick gives time for the strong muscles of the shoulder and arm to contract and slow the speed of the fall, thereby reducing injury. This is energy dissipation over time.

The stick can be made from bamboo or a ski pole, 70% to 75% of the user’s height, taller for country hiking. The sling which holds the hand should be individually closely fitted to make it comfortable, gentle and safe control for weak or arthritic hands. A strong grip is not necessary for reliable stick control.

A three-legged stool is more stable than a two-legged ladder. The stick is a versatile practical support which gives greater stability and safety, reducing falls and injuries. The use of two sticks, as in “Nordic Walking” is recommended for those who need greater stability. It is also very good for exercise.

The stick has saved my 82-year-old hide more than once without even a bruise when falls did occur. Stick helps me get up. Telescoping sticks are not reliable support because they can collapse when support is needed most.

  Better support reduces falls and injuries.

The taller stick has been the the key in a practical, strong, versatile mobile tripod support system used for thousands of years by millions of people around the world. It works.