You know the drill. This isn’t medical advice. Talk to your doctor, your mother, your psychic, your dog. I’m just a blogger with a credit card, a sucker for pretty things.
That said, I personally did not get great medical advice on this subject. Even after fracturing an elbow, even after splitting open my scalp, I was never encouraged to use mobility aids. While my friends and family were supportive, nobody was exactly championing mobility aids, even when my drunk-walking started to get dangerous.
I only had bad things to believe about canes, walkers and wheelchairs and was hell-bent on resisting them. The silence of those around me did nothing to hinder my hesitation; my interpretation of the unspoken sub-text being that bringing home a mobility device would be akin to giving up.
Which is bullshit, of course. But, it would have gone a long way if someone had just said, I’m proud of you for using a walker or That’s the brave choice, the strong decisionor Did you lose weight? You look amaaazing.
Even badasses need reminding of their bad-assery from time to time.
But, I get it. Without role-models or roadmaps, we’re all figuring this out as we go–those of us with MS and our squads. It took the help of the sidewalk for me to eventually realize that regardless of how I or others felt about it, it was time for me to pony up for a mobility aid (or two, or three…).
Different aids for different days
There are many types of mobility aids out there and this is by no means an exhaustive list. I started using a cane about four years ago, and have since added a rollator (which is a made-up word to describe a walker on wheels), plus a rollator that converts to a transport chair. Who knew MS would come with so many accessories?
Okay, poseur, if you can walk with a cane, why do you need a transport chair?
First of all, it’s poseuse. I’m a lady. Second, MS is complicated. Many wheelchairs users have some mobility and are able to walk. These are not unicorns, but ambulatory wheelchair users. When things like drop-foot, fatigue, and balance problems join forces to eff things up, temporarily using a transport chair can mean the difference between going out and living my best life, and sitting in my room with the lights off crying in the dark. Plus, it’s fun to yell “It’s a miracle” when some shade-thrower sees me get up from a chair.
Here’s the skinny on the mobility aids I use to get around:
I live in a hip Toronto loft. Hip is code for so small you can use all your crammed-in furniture for support. When I’m at home I use my cane, the couch, and the walls to get around. The cane is also handy for poking the dog when she’s in the way, which is always.
Canada has a shoes-off on the inside kind of vibe and I can feel your low-key anxiety when you worry I’m gonna rollator all over your steam-cleaned carpet, so I try to use a stick at someone else’s house. I avoid stairs like I avoid vegan cheese, or centipedes, but I can usually wrangle them with a cane if I have to. Except if I’ve had a glass of wine, which is always.
cause I’m bougie
There are some draw-backs to using a cane. Trekking poles can be a healthier, more balanced way to get around, but trekking poles require both hands, so unless Chanel wants to send me one of their backpacks, I haven’t found this to be a super practical solution. Plus, you can’t safely put a glass of wine in a backpack.
Canes have always been kinda fancy, so there’s no need to settle for an ugly one (mine is from canescanada.com). Be sure to consider what material yours is made from before investing. Maple is beautiful, but more suited to syrup. I had to replace my starter cane because I dropped it the first day I had it and 85 times a day thereafter, leaving it as sad and scabby as my brain and spinal cord.
this cane has MS
Outside, in the real world, I use a stylish rollator. Yup, I said it, stylish. My rollator provides way more support and stability than a stick. It helps me balance, and has saved my face from the ground so many times.
My cool looking rollator is fromByAcre, an award-winning Danish company with a focus on style, because hello, Europe. It comes with a bag that easily fits my laptop, or 2-3 bottles of wine, because if it’s not 5 o’clock here, it’s def 5 o’clock in Denmark. The bag is detachable, for when I don’t want my ride to block my outfit, which is always.
Convertible transport chair
In 2014 I found myself trapped on a bench in the Marais, full of FOMO and exhaustion, sucking back tears and a sketchy French beer. I’d been using a cane, but needed to stop every block or so, until I just couldn’t. I cried so many tears on that trip and especially on that bench where I remember sobbing, “If I can’t be happy in Paris, I will never be happy again. NEVER”.
The Banker and I travel a lot, but I didn’t purchase Optimus Prime (by Rollz Motion), my sleek convertible transport chair, for another 2 years after that sucky séjour. Because how the fuck was I supposed to know that sleek convertible transport chairs even existed? Or that that was exactly what I needed?
Nobody told me.
When we finally figured it out and invested in said device, the world opened up to us again. Now when we travel, I use OP as a rollator for as long as I feel like walking, and when I need a push, it quickly converts to a transport chair. It seems so obvious now.
Where were you when I needed you?
Where to find cool mobility aids
By now we’ve established that adding a mobility aid to your life can be empowering, and you don’t have to sacrifice looking cool. If you need a refresher click here.
But not all mobility aids are equal. I had to sift through a lot of ugly, uninspired old-lady looks before I found the mobility aids that worked for me, that reflected my attitude, my style, my personality. The companies that are still designing for the blue-haired crowd are getting it wrong. Those geriatric bitches are dying their hair pink now, and if my own grandmother was any kind of indication of the sassy senior I hope to eventually be, I will still be a glamorous, fashion-conscious narcissist well into my twilight years.
Thankfully, there are some manufacturers who know that style matters; who know that it’s easier for consumers to believe that mobility aids are not the enemy if they aren’t designed to look like monsters. The industry is slowly waking up to the idea that people with disabilities actually care about their appearance. Like, duh. But we shouldn’t have to rely solely on Scandinavia to provide thoughtful design. We need more options, and we need them to be affordable.
If you’ve got some sweet gear, please post a pic in the comments and let us know where you found it. And start tagging yourselves in social media with things like #babeswithmobilityaidsso we know where to find each other, and to let businesses know there’s a demand for cool mobility aids.
39 thoughts on “How To Find The Most Bad-Ass Mobility Aids”
The Alinker is an amazing mobility ait that allows the user to be at eye level with others and be fully supported while maintaining an active lifestyle.
Tha Alinker sounds great in theory, but it’s massive, cumbersome and a crotch sore, not in a good way. If you live in a small flat or apartment it really doesn’t store well. I really wanted to like it but was really disappointed when I tried it.
I agree with all this feedback. Plus, it didn’t help me walk better. I think it’s more suitable to people whose walking is mostly impaired by fatigue vs drop foot or weakness.
You had me laughing out loud about a topic that only you can make funny. Awesome!
Thanks Kim. The Alinker is one of the most unique things I've seen. It looks really cool. I wonder if I have enough storage in my tiny Toronto pad for another device…
The Alinker does not take up any more space then the footprint of a wheelchair. Also, it folds up (in half) and can be stored that way as well. Both front wheels are easy off, and the seat/saddle can be removed, pushed down, or left as is. I live in a small condo, and I leave my Alinker in my car (Subaru forester) when I’m home.
The soreness is REAL. But, I can absolutely confirm it does go away, is with any bike seat. And to top it all off, within 3 months of use, my Neuro confirmed positive rebound in leg muscle/strength.
Every one is different and everyone’s needs are different. But I highly encourage anyone with mobility concerns to give it a serious 3-6 month trial.
I was able to trial an Alinker and it wasn’t the right device for me. I have too much drop foot to be able to use it in any meaningful way. I also found it big and heavy. But, I’m so glad it works for you. We need lots of options because there is no one-size-fits all. Thanks for sharing your experience!
Aw, shucks. Thanks for reading, Lainie.
I have a bright pink collapsible cane that I use to get around, and a cheaper flora one with a wooden handle to help me get up and down the stairs in my house. I have a super cool pastel pimk one with a floral design and a gold engraved collar, but the handle design makes my wrist sore. So I take that one out for short trips and special occasions.
I recently purchased a second hand rollator, and decorated it with rainbow washi tape and some solar powered twinkle lights. I'm hoping to save up and get a really nice one eventually, I just needed one to male do for now.
Here is a link to my instagram with a picture featuring my everyday cane: https://instagram.com/p/BnnE8pxBGO-/
You are adorable. Following.
Thanks for sharing Caitlin!
My favorite crutches from the Netherlands are not being made right now, in fact been a few years since they were available. QuickStep from Arbin. I keep comment on what is left of this company. They are the best, adjustable, can be reduced to 24" long for easy storage, orange, I hope someone starts making them again. It is really annoying to stow crutches when you are sitting. These can be flipped upside down and stand on the arm piece, very well balanced.
Yeah they are great! But how does one on a fixed income suppose to be able to afford these amazing, mobility items? I know I can't.
There is such a demand for good design in mobility aids. I hope more companies will take notice.
It's true that the cost of quality mobility aids on a fixed income can be one more unfair and unmanageable disadvantage. I'm not sure what the answer is. Better quality products cost more to make and the manufacturers need to earn a profit. I think depending on where you live or what your insurance coverage is, some amount may be covered, but insurance companies and governments alike, would do well to recognize that keeping people mobile is not only the right thing to do, it's good for the economy too.
Great article. It is unfortunate that too many people who need mobility aids cannot afford them or too embarrassed to use them.
I live in the country, where can I find a scooter for dirt
Damn girl. How can you be so inside my own head?? I just need to get over myself, and stop having an affair with the ground. I really love (so twisted) the ByAcre. No where to buy in US? WTF? Something BIG is wrong with that.
Thanks for reading. You're absolutely right.
I am all city. I'm sorry, I have no idea!
Thanks for reading, and never fear. ByAcre ships to the US.
True, but I'd love to take one for a little spin before I sink in all those $$. Want to come visit me and bring yours? 🙂
Fair enough. Hopefully they will get some North-American distribution soon.
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It’s a manual. They wouldn’t let me have a power chair because I’m blind but this is my form of transportation someone has to push me
Ardra, do you know if the discount code of byacre, is available for the new model, the carbon overland? I live in a rural area, and the “normal” model, i’ve tried it, the weels are not enought for the uneven terrain.
The discount should work for all models. I haven’t tried the overland myself, so please keep me posted as to how you make out. And let me know if you have any trouble using the discount code.
I’ve just ordered it!! i will tell you as soon as i’ve try it. Hopefully it will arrive soon, it only has to cross Europe to Spain
My city is full of cobbled and uneven pavement, so, fingers crossed
Thank you for writing your blog. This is so refreshing. I’m one that has a hard time accepting the cane. But after reading this a couple of times over the last couple of week I’m feeling better about it. I love the sleek walker. That would make using a walker much better looks like a mobility aid not a medical device. So what kind of bag do you carry? I’m rethinking a shoulder bag but don’t want an uninspiring backpack.
I’m with you, I’m not a fan of backpacks. I like a cross-body bag as opposed to a shoulder bag which tends to slip off when I’m using a cane or rollator. My go-to is a leather fanny pack that I wear cross-body. It’s from Free People. I just checked and they aren’t selling the exact style that I have, but they do have some cute options.
Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.
Wow thank you for a great article this is exactly the kind of thing I need to hear I have a walker but I want one to travel with something that collapses quickly small and has a bag so I’ll take a look at the one you referred to Be safe out there and let’s get moving
Both the byAcre and Rollz have bags (at an additional cost). Good luck!
Is there a walker transport chair combo that is electric? My husband is on continuous oxygen and can’t push a wheelchair, but most of the time I only need a walker.
I love this post (and your lighthearted approach!). I use both a cane and a wheelchair intermittently for my fatigue and weakness, and was insistent they had to be beautiful and stylish. It felt like vanity, but if we’re going to need mobility devices before our hair goes white, we might as well make a statement. Now I often coordinate my cane with my outfits, and I sincerely think there are people who are jealous they don’t have these additional accessories to enhance their wardrobe. In all seriousness, though, thank you for such a positive approach to a step that’s hard for a lot of us in the chronic illness/disability community to take.
I’m so glad I found your blog! I don’t have MS, but I live with severe chronic pain due to my back. Grocery shopping has taught me that leaning forward to push a cart provides some relief. I’ve considered a rollator, but I haven’t been brave enough to take that step. So I stay home because of the pain? Not anymore! A bad-ass, all-terrain rollator may be the perfect solution. I could travel again! With an available seat, I could go to museums again! It’s so nice to see pictures of rollators that are not reserved for those over 80! Thanks!
Years ago my neighbour who was a new mom was desperate for a break and she asked if I would take her baby for a walk. I happily agreed. I wasn’t using any mobility aids at the time and I couldn’t believe how much stamina I had pushing the stroller. I was so thrilled to discover how much easier it was to walk with that little bit of support the stroller gave me. Keep moving and I’m so glad this post resonated.
I’m so glad I found your blog. I have encouragement to travel because of this. Made my day! Thank you.
I’m so glad to hear this, and now you’ve made my day!
I have the rollz motion and it’s very useful. It’s not the best rollator or best chair but it gets the job done for both and it’s definitely the most versatile. I use it for airport travel all the time.
Looking at getting the Byacre overland as well. I have FRDA so my I have a trifecta of clumsiness, imbalance, and lack of endurance and then some. I commonly hit my feet on the rollz but the byacre is wider.
I also have a Trionic. https://www.trionic.us/en/veloped-%E2%80%94-the-alternative-to-a-rollator-i-18?page_id=18
I used it for a trip to Iceland. It’s big. It’s heavy. It’s a specialty item but for outdoor walking, rough terrain, and beaches, it’s awesome.
Thanks for the discount codes, I hope they still work!