Choosing the right equipment to help you get around

If your Parkinson’s symptoms affect your ability to move around, there is a range of equipment available that you may find helpful. We look at some of the things you should consider to get the right aid for you.  

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Choosing a walking stick

What shoes do you usually wear?

Wear your usual footwear when you choose or adjust your walking stick. If you stand with good upright posture the handle should line up with the bump at the bottom of your wrist bone, with your arm hanging naturally at your side. This will mean that your elbow bends slightly when you hold the handle.

How much upper body strength do you have?

If your upper body isn’t very strong, choose a stick that is light and easy to move forward in time with your stride. You may find the heavier three- or four-footed sticks are more difficult to move forward and may trip you up. 

How is your dexterity?

Choose a handle that is a shape and size that lets you grip it as strongly as you can. 

How much do you weigh?

Walking sticks are tested to a maximum weight, so check that yours is appropriate before buying.

Choosing a walking frame

Where will you use your walking frame?

There are different sizes of walking frames. For example, will it fit through doorways when you're at home?  

How tall are you?

Four-wheeled walking frames tend to offer more support than three-wheeled ones because they are wider and are usually made of heavier materials. This makes them good for taller or heavier people. But heavier frames may be more difficult to use, and to lift in and out of cars. 

Do you fall often?

A four-wheeled walking frame, which is heavier, may be more steady if you fall over more often, experience involuntary movements (dyskinesia) or tremor.

Do you experience rigidity or weakness in your hands?

Sometimes a walking frame may ‘get away’ from the person using it and cause them to fall. There are different types of brakes available, but make sure they’re easy for you to use as some can be difficult if you experience rigidity or weakness in your hands.

Choosing a wheelchair

Will you or someone else be regularly putting a wheelchair in a car?

Look for one that is not heavy to lift, collapses easily and fits into your car or boot space.

How tall is the person who may be pushing you? 

Make sure handles are at a height that means the person pushing the wheelchair doesn’t have to stoop down to reach them. 

Where will you be using your wheelchair?

Choose a wheelchair to suit the types of areas you will be out and about in. For example, if you’ll be on pavements a lot, choose large enough wheels to go over kerbs easily and has anti-tipping features. A lap strap can be helpful, especially when going over kerbs or single steps. 

How is your posture?

A chest harness may be helpful if you slide out of a chair, or a one-way glide sheet that is designed to limit how easy it is to slide forward.

Do you experience dyskinesia?

If so, look for a wheelchair which has sturdy footplates. Plastic footplates can break more easily, or can interfere with the freedom of the front wheels, especially for turns and reversing if they are pushed down.