Let’s start off with a basic description: what is a cane seat? It is what it is, a walking cane with an attached seat. The product is foldable so that the seat drops down and out of the way of the walking path of the user when they use the cane. Some seats come in a sturdy plastic and others in a canvas material similar to a camping chair.
- Provides a comfortable seat to rest on when open, and a sturdy support cane when closed
- Manufactured with sturdy, extruded aluminum tubing
- Tripod design for increased stability
- Vinyl tipped, contoured legs are strong and stable
- Seat Diameter: 9 inch; Seat Height: 19 - 22 inches; Cane Height 34 inch - 38 inch; Seat to floor height 21 inches. Weight Capacity: 250 lbs
The product implies that there is a “rest-on-the-go” benefit with using a cane seat. Unfortunately, a cane seat was not designed for everyone but how do customers know whether or not they qualify?
The following reasons are why a cane seat would not be a safe option for someone:
History Of Falls
Ground-level falls occur for any number of reasons, but are strongly associated with muscle weakness, fatigue, dizziness, pain, and just bad luck. Individuals who have consistently fallen in the last 6 months have no business using a cane seat. Having to stop, unfold/refold the seat, and squat down/elevate back up places them at a huge risk for falling again and again.
Unsafe With A Standard Single Cane
If there is any inkling that the person is unstable while using a regular cane, then a cane seat is not for them. People that experience frequent loss of balance or falls with a single-point cane should actually be thinking of getting a walker which provides two points of hand contact for increased stabilization. Buying a cane seat is going the other way on the spectrum, which can present some serious consequences.
Weak Quad Strength
There is actually quite a bit of lower extremity strength that goes into squatting down and standing up from the seat. If the user is leaning their full body weight into the cane, then they are using it wrong and are placing themselves at a much higher risk for falling. Even regular canes were not designed to take full body weight for ease of transfer. It is expected that someone using a cane still relies on their thighs to perform sit-to-stand transfers.
An individual who easily fatigues should not be repeatedly squatting down on a portable seat with no available arm-rests (and the crook of the cane does not count). Of course, the seat is designed for rest breaks. However, if the individual can’t resolve their fatigue with simple rest breaks in unsupported sitting then they are going to have a lot of trouble safely standing up.
Poor Vision And/or Perception
This should go without saying, but accidents still happen. Individuals with poor vision or poor depth perception should think twice about using a cane seat. The user has to be able to distinguish surface variations in order to place the open seat on flat terrain. They also have to be able to watch themselves maneuver and sit down on the small seat. If they are unable to perceive this task, they could miss or tip the chair over and land on the ground.
Cane seats have a limited weight-bearing capacity, some up to 250 lbs. Given how small the seats are and the general framework of the cane, individuals who are morbidly obese should avoid using a cane seat and look into a sturdy bariatric cane or a walker.
Cane Seat Respiratory Complications
Obviously, juggling a cane seat and a portable oxygen tank does not add up to facilitating a productive walk. For people who aren’t dependent on an oxygen supplement but have a history of respiratory problems, they should consider looking into rollators instead of a cane seat. If a user experiences a respiratory episode in which their oxygen saturation drops, sitting on a small stool without a back support is going to do very little to raise the saturation numbers. If the respiratory complications worsen, they increase their risk for falling and injuring themselves.
This is a complicated area, since there are numerous conditions or disorders that display cognitive deficits. If cognitive-related issues are directly correlated with an individual’s tendency to lose their balance or to fall, then giving them a cane seat is just a bad idea overall. For example, a person with moderate dementia frequently pushes off of her single-point cane to get off of the toilet seat rather than using the grab bars available to her in the bathroom. An individual with a mild anoxic brain injury bends over his cane to tie his shoes, putting his full body weight through the shaft even after his wife has continuously told him not to. If the lack of safety awareness and judgment causes the user to apply the cane seat inappropriately, then it is not for them.
Now, the next few reasons are why someone may be able to safely utilize a cane seat:
Mild Standing Balance Impairments
The user can manage walking safely with the use of occasional furniture walking or the use of a single-point cane. They have relatively full use of their legs but can maintain their standing balance.
Walking Is Stable With A Single-point Cane
If they can manage walking with a single-point cane and have no history of falls while using it, they might be appropriate for a cane seat.
The user has full lung capacity and a relatively healthy heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate with activity. The product implies that the user will be extending their walk since they have the portable seat available for rest breaks. The user will need the medical stability in order to endure longer walks and to reserve energy for transferring in and out of the chair.
Decent Lower Extremity Strength
The user has to have a reasonable amount of strength in both of their legs in order to perform sit-to-stand transfers. Note, some cane seats have height—adjustable features to make standing up easier for taller adults. The height still needs to be set at a reasonable level, and the user will still be expected to stand up without arm-rest or stationery support.