Learning to Use a Cane
by Dona Sauerburger, COMS
If you are considering using a cane to help you avoid bumping into things or tripping and falling, here is what's involved with learning the cane technique.
Return to Stages of Learning to Use a Cane
Some of the features of proper cane technique which can provide maximum protection include:
- the cane is held in front of your body with your hand centered and using the proper hand grip;
- using the proper wrist movement, the cane tip makes an arc an inch or two wider than your body;
- the cane is moved in rhythm with your feet, with the tip being on the side opposite of your forward foot.
The cane won't provide you with maximum protection until you have reached the fourth level of proficiency.
That means that you can move the cane correctly without thinking about it, and you can notice what the cane detects, even when you are distracted or mislead by what you can see, or what you expect.
And you need to maintain that level of attention and proficiency by using the cane regularly.
Stages of learning the cane
So -- you can get good protection with the cane if you take the time to become proficient with it AND you keep up your skills with regular use.
Learning to use the cane
- First level -- beginning to learn:
The learner is beginning to understand how to move and use the cane.
- Second level -- concentration required:
The learner can maintain a correct technique without any prompting, but only when concentrating on it. If distracted with anything, such as a question, another task, or sometimes even a thought, the cane technique will deteriorate or deviate from correct technique.
- Third level -- Correct movement is maintained without concentration:
The proper cane technique has become a natural part of walking, and the learner no longer has to concentrate in order to consistently move it correctly.
- Fourth level -- Learner responds to cane information reliably:
This is the final stage of learning to use the cane. At this level of proficiency, the learner always notices when the cane drops over an edge or contacts an obstacle.
Once learners have achieved this level of proficiency, the cane will provide them reliable protection in all situations
because they maintain correct cane technique even when distracted,
and they notice drop-offs and obstacles.
It normally doesn't take long to learn to use the cane properly.
Usually a couple of training sessions is all that is necessary, IF the training is reinforced with lots of practice between sessions.
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