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Use Of Walking Aids Going Up For Elder Americans

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Latest study reveals that the use of walking aids such as canes, scooters and wheelchairs are on the rise for elderly Americans.

Nancy Gell, an assistant professor of rehabilitation and movement science at the University of Vermont, who is also the lead author of the study, reveals that the use of various types of walking aids has spiked up by 50 percent in the last 10 years. As the numbers of elderly people continue to rise the demand for walking aids is expected to increase two fold by 2050.

Thousands of people over the age of 65 years use walking aids. Previous studies have pointed out that many elderly people opt for a walking aid to reduce their chances of falling, which is the leading cause of death in elderly people in the country.

"Previous research suggested that these devices may have altered the way people walk, thus contributing to falls, but those studies only looked within groups of people who used devices, who are already more likely to fall," says Gell.

The latest study shows no connection between falls and walking aids as previously believed.

The study found that 16.4 percent of people using walking aids prefer canes, 11.6 percent of the elderlies use walkers, just over 6 percent takes assistance of wheelchair and about 2.3 percent use scooters.

Gell also reports that more than 9 percent of the elderly Americans use multiple walking devices. She also raises the question why people use more than one walking device.

Gell believes that the growing demand for walking aids may be due to many factors. Many people are lazy and prefer using walking sticks even for a short walk. The increasing numbers of the senior population in the U.S. is another factor that has led to the increase in the demand of walking aids in the country.

The study also believes that improved accessibility to walking aids is another factor that has led to elderly people buying these devices. Gell suggests that walking devices are also becoming more socially accepted, which may have led to the increase in demand of walking aids.

Gell points out that the use of walking aids was high amongst Hispanics and blacks. People who were obese, suffered from coordination or balance problem and had history of pain were also likely to use walking aid more than others.

Photo: Garry Knight | Flickr

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