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Phys Ther. 1993 Aug;73(8):494-500; discussion 501-4.

Relationships among cane fitting, function, and falls.

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  • 1School of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

Erratum in

  • Phys Ther 1993 Oct;73(10):712.



Although canes are among the most commonly used mobility aids, little is known about the relationship between cane prescription and effectiveness. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships among cane fitting (ie, cane fitter, cane band, and cane length), reported improvements in function, and reduction in falls.


Cane users living in the community (86 women and 58 men with a median age distribution of 61 to 80 years) and sampled from seven urban shopping centers in British Columbia, Canada, participated in the study. The primary reasons cited for using a cane were joint problems (39%), general balance difficulties (30%), and a combination of joint and balance problems (15%). Measures included appropriateness of cane length and responses to closed-ended questions related to qualifications of the cane fitter, cane band, functional ability with a cane, and falling frequency.


Overall, cane use was associated with improved confidence and functional ability. Canes fitted by health care workers approximated the clinically recommended length compared with canes fitted by non-health care workers, which tended to be greater than this length. There was no relationship, however, between cane fitting (cane fitter, cane hand, and appropriateness of cane length) and functional ability with a cane and falling frequency [corrected].


We concluded that health care workers may need to reconsider the variables for optimal cane prescription and their specifications for a given individual. The notion of a correct length and cane hand, for example, may be less important than factors such as the indications for cane use, comfort, and enhanced confidence.

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