Review: Buffalo horn sword cane by Windlass Steelcrafts
Is a Cane That Looks Cool Too Much to Ask?
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In reading the program plan for this year’s Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis (CMSC) annual meeting, I was overwhelmed by the amount of really interesting research Because it came on the heels of the European MS Platform (EMSP) meeting in Warsaw and just before I head to America and Canada in support of my book, Chef Interrupted, I had to skip the meetings (we only have so much energy, after all).
But one CMSC presentation under the heading of cognition and psychosocial studies caught my eye.
Donald Barone, DO, of Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, presented preliminary data on research into differing benefits of several kinds of walking aids. What I found interesting was the part of the study that went beyond which walking aids help us walk best. Dr Barone’s team is also evaluating the psychosocial impact and fatigue levels associated with three different walking aids: single-point canes, four-point canes and trekking poles.
As a person who uses a single-point cane nearly all of the time and a forearm crutch some of the time, I am aware of the fatigue-lessening benefit of using assistive devices. As a person who tries to source interesting canes that secondarily act as fashion accessories, I’d not thought of the psychosocial side of the researchers’ quest.
I’m not one to shrink from using a device if I need one. At the same time I believe I’d feel a lot differently were I in need of a four-point cane. There is something to be said for hiding behind a bent piece of bark-on hickory versus the nursing home-issued four-poster. The same can be said for my insurance-purchased walker in comparison to the slick rollators on the market. Dare I use non-politically correct language to say that some assistive devices just look too "handicapped" for my taste?
So must be the case with trekking poles.
I see active hikers and long-distance walkers using these poles in my town nearly every day. For balance issues and moderate support, I’d have to think that they would be well suited. They may have been designed for hiking and, as their name suggests, trekking, but who among us hasn’t felt that going from point A to point B wasn’t a bit like climbing our own mountain?
That we might not look like we need assistive devices while actually relying upon one might very well make us feel better about using them. The equal support of both sides that dual poles would afford seems attractive, indeed. Though, when I think about it, the small tips of trekking poles don’t seem to offer a whole lot of contact support.
Only an update of the research was presented at the conference last weekend. I look forward to reading the completed study, which is expected to be finished in May 2019.
What are your thoughts on the way our assistive devices look? Have you purchased decorated or fashionable aids or have you done a bit of modifications yourself? Might you think about something sporty like trekking poles?
Wishing you and your family the best of health.
My book, Chef Interrupted, is available on Amazon. Follow me on the Life With MS Facebook page and on Twitter, and subscribe to Life With Multiple Sclerosis.
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