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Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2000 Jun;(375):313-9.

Effects of a cane on floor reaction force and center of force during gait.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Chiayi Christian Hospital, Taiwan.


In comparative studies of various gait patterns of 20 healthy subjects who used a cane, the vertical reaction forces and the center of force on the foot were measured and recorded by a force recording and analyzing device. The results indicated that when a cane was used in the ipsilateral hand, the center of force did not shift significantly compared with normal gait. When a cane was used in the contralateral hand, the center of force shifted medially compared with normal gait. In analysis of the vertical floor reaction force acting on the foot, the most efficient way to use a cane was to control the pacing so that the tip of the cane and the foot touched the ground simultaneously. By doing so, the cane could share as much as 34.3% of force at heel strike, 25.3% at midstance, and 29.7% at toeoff of the stance phase of the gait cycle. When prescribing use of a cane for a patient with varus gonarthritis, the patient should be instructed to use the cane in the ipsilateral hand so as not to shift the center of force medially; for a patient with valgus gonarthritis, the cane should be used in the contralateral hand to shift the center of force medially. Patients should be taught to control pacing so that the tip of the cane and the foot touch the ground simultaneously.

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