Another Busted Cane Leads to a Search for Something Better

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by Ed Tobias |

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A few weeks ago, my cane mutinied.

I’ve been using canes for about 20 years — first one, and then a pair. I’m tough on them and put a lot of weight on them. I take them out in the heat, cold, and rain. I force them to rest on the scorching cement when I go for a swim. It’s not easy being one of my canes, so it’s no wonder that, a few weeks ago, one revolted and broke, right where the handle meets the stick.

Fortunately, I stayed upright, and my wife, Laura, had a set of forearm crutches with her. (Those are the crutches with a cuff that wraps around the forearm that she sometimes uses due to back issues.) It’s a good thing she did, because my cane mutiny happened, appropriately, onboard a ship as we cruised with our son and his family. It’s hard to find a place to buy canes on a cruise ship, and I don’t think Amazon would deliver (although you never know now with drones).

Different canes for different MS stages

I think I’ve been through about 10 canes over the past two decades. When I started using them, I was more concerned with style than strength or stability. Laura found some really neat handcarved canes at craft shows that looked so good people would compliment me on them. But they tended to slip on wet or slick surfaces, and I had my first busted-cane experience when the handle on one snapped at the stick.

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I moved to a lightweight folding cane that was great for commuting and traveling. It was easy to find on the internet. I could fold and stash it in my briefcase, and take it out when I wanted a little extra support.

As my walking difficulties increased, however, I moved to one, then two light metal canes that didn’t fold. I also opted for canes with three rubber feet rather than one to better guard against slipping on wet floors. Over time, I broke two or three of these. It was one of these canes that broke on the ship.

My latest, greatest cane

After that, Laura had enough and went off to search for a real cane that could take a licking and keep on ticking. She found the Dynamo Swing Cane. The Swing Cane was invented by William Scott, who says on his company’s website that he’s had about a dozen knee surgeries and uses canes a lot.

best cane tips | Multiple Sclerosis News Today | Ed's new blue cane.

One of my new canes. (Photo by Ed Tobias)

Scott has created a very good cane. The handle is soft rubber, but it seems firmer than other canes I’ve used. It also seems to be fuller and is a better fit in my hand.

The handle grip precedes the cane’s shaft, which is the opposite design of other canes. It’s odd at first, but I quickly became used to it. The stick also bends slightly. These two features are designed to create a neutral point of balance, which is supposed to make users more stable when walking. I think it works.

The base of the cane actually looks a bit like a foot. It’s about 6 inches long, with a hard, rubber tread, and pivots in a heel-toe motion, like the foot does when walking.

I’ve been using this cane for about three weeks, and it’s the best cane I’ve ever used. I feel secure with it, and — fingers crossed — I don’t think I’ll ever have another cane mutiny.

(For the record, I paid for this cane, and the Dynamo people have no idea I’m writing this. I just think their cane really fits my needs and probably those of others with MS.)

You’re invited to visit my personal website at www.themswire.com.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Comments

Dorothyanne Brown avatar

Dorothyanne Brown

I personally love my urban poles as they provide support to my hand (grip extends under the side of my hand) and they result in a more upright step, as well as giving me some core stability and an upper arm workout. I don't mean the nordic-ski type poles that twist tight (and loosen also), but ones that click into height like a cane does. I find they work much better with my arthritis hands and weaker grip.

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Thanks for the info, Dorothyanne,

I've found that I need more weight-baring support than a pole can give me but I know that a lot of folks use them successfully. We just have to understand what works for one may not work for another and keep looking until we find the right tool to use. (And that will change as the years go by.)

Ed

Reply
Nancy Bergstrom avatar

Nancy Bergstrom

Hey Ed - glad you are finding a better cane. I use canes at home in my small house - even have downstairs canes for when I venture to the basement. With a pair downstairs I do not have to carry a pair with me while on the stairs holding to both railings. I anchor my upstairs pair in the railings near the top of the stairs so they are ready for me.

I use a pair of forearm crutches when I am out and about. I find then so much easier to use and provide me more support. I use them with Fetterman Tornado Tips for managing the wet environment I have here in Seattle. Best tips ever, for me. https://fetterman-crutches.com/
Nancy Bergstrom

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Nancy.

I love the idea of upstairs and downstairs canes and using the railings to hang them.

My wife (a retired PT) has been trying to get me to use forearm crutches like hers but I've resisted. They're more difficult for me to carry when I'm riding on my scooter, especially if I'm using my little TravelScoot. Eventually, I suppose, I'll change over to them. And if those Tornado Tips can handle Seattle's wet weather they can handle anything.

Ed

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Clement Mitchell avatar

Clement Mitchell

I found that walking sticks from skiwalking.com are terrifically stable and provide a sense of security.
They are not expensive and the proper length is cut to the size needed according to your height.
The person who owns SkiWalking.com gives classes to people with disabilities.

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Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Clement,

Thanks for the tip. I'm way past the walking stick stage, and need a lot more than just a "sense" of security, but I know that people in early stages of walking problems can use them to help.

Ed

Reply
Paula Mieczkowski avatar

Paula Mieczkowski

Another good one Ed! Thank you

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Paula,

Thanks for taking the time to drop a note. I always appreciate it and I'm glad you like what I've written.

Ed

Reply
Joanne Martin Gastwirth avatar

Joanne Martin Gastwirth

Have you tried a Strong Arm Comfort Cane? I bought one and use it instead of a walker, which was only needed for stability. It's stronger with it's forearm design and studier and has with a wide foot. I stumble frequently and with this cane I stay upright.

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Joanne,

No, I haven't. Thanks for the tip.

Ed

Reply
Cay Borduin avatar

Cay Borduin

I graduated from a single cane to a walker years ago. Can you tell me the reasons you use two canes instead of a walker? Am I missing something by not trying that? Thanks.

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Cay,

Actually, I sometimes wonder if I'm not missing something by not using a walker. I've found, however, that the canes allow me to move around in tight areas better than a walker would. Also, I ride a scooter a lot and I can take the canes along for the ride. I couldn't do that with the walker.

Ed

Reply
Carolyn Walsh, MSN, RN avatar

Carolyn Walsh, MSN, RN

I've recently become cane-dependent after a 30-year course of MS. I feel very blessed, I really like your column, with all the answers and suggestions from your readers. This helps me think outside of my box. I'll be looking at your own cane experience, and those of others that have responded to your writing here. There are some great options presented!

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Carolyn,

Thanks for your note and I'm very glad what I write has been useful to you. That's the whole idea...present some thoughts that might not have occurred and also to encourage discussion. Guess I've been successful this time. :-)

Ed

Reply

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