Patient Blogs | Multiple Sclerosis
Use That Walking Cane!
photo of woman holding cane

Hearing the words “I recommend using a walking stick” from your neurologist can feel like ahard blow. Even if we’ve thought of this outcome ourselves, hearing it affirmed from our doctor seals the deal in terms of verification. It just got real! 

This was no surprise to me as I was way too familiar with the ground meeting my face on a regular basis. Years of ballet lessons were not enough to combat the deterioration of myelin associated with my multiple sclerosis (MS) and resulting a lack of basic coordination. 

I knew I wasn’t alone in the “I Can Do It Myself!” Club. This club is housed of stubborn, self-sufficient, hard-headed folks like me who loathe the thought of asking for help or needing assistance. We enjoy being the superhero type. The “fixers.” Sound familiar?

The shift in which the fixer becomes the fixee can lead to a tricky algorithm. For me, it required some humility, patience, and an overall bigger sense of self-acceptance. Knowing that using a mobility aid would mean less face-to-ground contact was pretty appealing. Fewer ripped pants. Less bruised knees. Fewer crowd-roaring gasps of shock and disbelief. Fewer assumptions that I may have got into a bar fight. 

This all seemed intriguing. So there I was one afternoon, scouring the internet for a cool walking cane that would not only prevent falls but would also complement my style.

I knew I’d feel more comfortable about using a walking cane if I loved what it looked like. I wanted something versatile, fashionable, flashy, and unique. I wanted my cane to feel like an extension of me -- something I was proud to use and wear. Nobody is going to go to their optometrist saying, “I’d like the ugliest frames in stock please.”

Within the first 30 minutes of searching, I already felt like I was set up for failure. Every website I visited seemed to be targeting older generations and seniors. I was 31 years old. I felt discouraged, and even a little embarrassed, seeing mobility aids in general being marketed to seniors only. No disrespect at all to my elders -- I just wasn’t quite there yet. I wanted to see people in my age bracket sporting walking canes and modeling them. I wanted to find those I could relate to.

So I let myself get sucked into the vortex of social media. There I found a handful of strong-voiced chronic illness influencers who made my wish a reality. I saw younger members of the chronic illness community sporting their canes, rollators, and braces like they were couture. And they were doing it with confidence that seemed contagious! 

This gave me a sense of pride and empowered me to break the mold of what disability looks like. Plus, these disabled fashionistas were referencing all the cool, modern, and edgy mobility aid companies out there! I felt like I had hit the jackpot and was determined to break all the rules.

I think there’s quite a bit of “shock factor” when it comes to mobility aids, especially for the younger generations using them. I guarantee if you do an online search right now for walking canes, 99% of the marketing will target seniors. But what if we widened our target audience and changed the algorithm? The element of shame that comes with using a mobility aid for younger generations may be reduced when we see them being used in a more relatable way.

If it’s your turn to take the plunge with a mobility aid, make sure it suits you! I know it’s a nerve-wracking situation and it takes a lot of guts! I look at it this way: If I’m going to get stared at in public for using a mobility aid, I might as well look darn good doing it. I might even ask if they want to take a picture with me. 

Find what speaks to you! If you love animals, find a cane with cats on it. Have a special event coming up? Find a cane that gives off that black-tie vibe. Most importantly, you'll not only severely reduce your fall risk factor and protect that pretty face of yours, you’ll look darn good doing it!




Photo Credit: kuldunova / istock via Getty Images

Tell us what you think of this post?
0 Like
0 Sad
0 Cheered up
0 Empowered
0 Care
WebMD Patient Blog © 2023 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Brittany Quiroz

Brittany Quiroz

Guest contributor

Brittany Quiroz, better known as “A Hot MS,” is a multiple sclerosis advocate, speaker, writer, and content creator. With transparency, humor, zero filters, and a willingness to “go there,” she aims to empower, educate, and encourage others living with the disease to keep pushing. Most of all, she strives to break the stigma attached to disability.

Latest Blog Posts From Brittany Quiroz

Self Acceptance and MS

Self Acceptance and MS

How do we really come to terms with accepting our new reality with an incurable progressive disability? Right off the bat we probably feel ...

Read more