Foot surgery is a particularly disruptive procedure, as it leaves you quite limited when it comes to moving around. You won’t be able to put any weight on the affected foot for a significant period of time. Whether you lead an active lifestyle or you simply need to maneuver through your local grocery store, staying mobile is a major priority. Just getting out of bed a few times each day leads to improvements in your immune system, stronger bones, and better digestion ? all of which are important to your short-term recovery and your long-term health.
Purchasing or renting the right equipment can make a big difference in how comfortable you are during your recovery, and choosing between a walker and crutches depends on a variety of lifestyle factors. These are the critical questions to ask before committing to mobility equipment:
- What do your physician and physical therapist recommend? The first and most important question to ask is what your providers recommend. Based on your specific injury and procedure, they may have firm opinions on which equipment will protect your foot best and which option will be most effective at speeding your recovery.
- How much stability do you need, and how much strength do you have? Walkers provide more stability than crutches ? particularly if you experience weakness in your arms or legs or you have trouble with balance. You can lean your full weight on walkers, and you don’t need as much upper-body strength to move around successfully. If stability and balance are of concern to you, a two-wheeled walker is a better choice to start. Once you are stronger, a four-wheeled walker may be more appropriate.
- Can you pick up a fallen crutch? One of the most frustrating issues for individuals who are mobility-impaired is dropping a crutch and lacking the balance and flexibility to pick it up. If you will struggle with bending over to retrieve a fallen crutch, consider a walker, which will remain upright even if you let go for a moment.
- How important is maneuverability to you? If you spend a lot of time out and about, you may prefer the maneuverability of crutches. They are easier to manage in tight spots, and you won’t face the struggle of getting a walker through skinny doors. Some individuals who don’t plan to move around much at all after surgery choose crutches as well. They aren’t as bulky to have around the house, yet they provide enough support to stand for short periods of time or to get back and forth to the bathroom.
Choosing the wrong assistive equipment can have serious consequences. For example, you may find yourself exhausted and unable to continue walking in an inopportune location, or you may experience a fall. In a worst-case scenario, you could reinjure your foot and require further surgery. When in doubt, choose the more stable walker over crutches, which require a certain amount of balance and coordination. After all, you can always trade in your walker for crutches when your foot has healed a bit.
Mobility issues can be discouraging, and many people feel uncomfortable about using assistive equipment. However, staying active is an important part of your recovery. Choose an assistive device that will ensure you can continue to participate in activities you love ? and feel free to use crafting materials to add a bit of your own personality to your walker or crutches.