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Canes – Pick the Right Stick

Brian Tiburzi

A cane may be adequate if you need minimal support. First determine the correct length of the cane. If it is too long and your elbow stays bent when you lean on the cane, the triceps muscle at the back of the elbow has to stay contracted. This can lead to muscle fatigue and pain in your shoulder. To prevent …

How to Use Crutches on Stairs

Brian Tiburzi

Approach the stairs and have your therapist stand by for safety until confident of abilities. Keep crutches down on lower level and do not place upward on the steps. Push down hard on the crutches with your arms. This lifts the body upward. Then, step up first with your strong leg to the first step! Bring up your weak leg …

Of Crutches and Canes

Brian Tiburzi

Have you thought about using a cane or crutch but dismissed the idea because you’d be self-conscious? Think you’ll look “disabled”? Figure that you’ve gotten along okay without walking aids so far, so why start now? Good question.I know that feeling well and talked about it in “Facing Reality.” But ask yourself if you are really getting along okay. Do …


Brian Tiburzi

If you’re at risk of falling or have some balancing problems you might want to consider using a walker. It is imperative that your walker is properly fitted with comfortable handgrips and that it is the correct height for you. To determine the correct height, stand inside the walker, let your arms rest at your sides and match the crease …

Roll Models: Scooters and Wheelchairs

Brian Tiburzi

Many of us who had polio used canes, wheelchairs and bracing on our path to recovery and gradually were able to relinquish them. Others of us have developed different chronic conditions that have managed just fine until now without mobility equipment. But as we get older our bodies change, our symptoms escalate and daily activities use so much more energy …


Brian Tiburzi

BABY, IT IS COLD OUTSIDE! William G. Stothers Snow and bone-chilling cold are making this a brutal winter across North America. And Phil the groundhog says it will go on for another six weeks. Bad news for people stuck in this kind of weather, especially polio survivors. We know the snow-choked wheelchair wheels, snow-banked sidewalks and curb cuts, melting messes indoors, …


Brian Tiburzi

Orthotics is the use of braces and splints (orthoses) to biomechanically assist in supporting and stabilizing parts of the body affected by paralyzed and/or weak muscles (Bunch, 1985). Orthotics, grouped by a description of the area in which they provide support, are usually divided into three categories:  lower extremity, upper extremity, and spinal. For example, in lower extremity orthotics, foot …

The Utility of Post-Polio Bracing

Brian Tiburzi

Irwin M. Siegel, MD Patients with post-polio weakness can often benefit by using an appropriate brace. Braces can 1) provide support, 2) correct a flexible deformity, or 3) relieve pain. Usually it is best to correct a fixed deformity through stretching or surgery before applying the brace. Post-polio patients require special consideration when it comes to bracing. They usually present …

Brace Maintenance and Care Guidelines

Brian Tiburzi

Tamara Treanore, CO, ABC Daniel M. Ryan, MD Brace maintenance and care will improve the function, extend the life and improve the comfort of the brace. The following guidelines are provided for your use. Please feel free to ask any questions. I. Plastic braces: Check for discoloration in the plastic on a regular basis. Discoloration indicates that the plastic in those …


Brian Tiburzi

Are you afraid to be in crowds because you may fall if someone bumps you? Does your “good” leg hurt because it holds most of our weight? Try a cane. Here are a few tips on selecting and using a cane, which you can make yourself or purchase at a local drug store/medical supply store. Some insurance plans will cover the …