Monday, November 17, 2014

A Tale of Two Canes

...or three or four!

Abi and I are constantly on a quest for the most useful cane. 

We tried the NFB free cane. It was lightweight and long, and quite nice. But the metal tip kept getting stuck in cracks in the sidewalk, and when Abi was littler, she didn't have the coordination to get it unstuck again quickly or smoothly. 

We bought her a pink one from and added a Hello Kitty sticker. 

That one had a rolling ball. It didn't get stuck in cracks. 

But the whole cane was quite heavy for a little kid. It's basically an adult cane, only shorter with a smaller grip. 

In an attempt to lighten things up, we used our best MacGyver skillz, and added a whiffle ball at the end of a new longer cane. This combined the big ball end with the lightest weight cane we could find: the NFB freebie again. 

She used this setup for about a year, until she lost the last of her vision in July, actually. She liked it because she could use constant contact technique on any terrain: grass, gravel, whatever.

At the point when her vision changed, she was a little taller, a little stronger, and able to coordinate tapping a metal tip. With no residual vision to use to find the edges of sidewalks, she suddenly preferred the haptic and auditory feedback of the metal tip. 

We got her another longer NFB cane, and covered it with fun rainbow duct tape. The trouble was, it was suddenly too long to fit comfortably next to her in the car. The cork top broke off, and then it had no loop for hanging. Still, she liked the length when walking, because she had a longer reach and could walk faster. 

Although we worked out a system of stowing it along the floor, she still asked if I could find her a folding cane that could be easy to hold in the car. I promised to try. 

This time, I headed back to Ambutech. Although they recommend not using their 8mm ID canes for mobility, I figured that for a little kid, they might be small and lightweight enough to work really well. 

I got her a graphite folding ID cane with pink on it again. This time, I thought we'd give their ceramic tip a try, although I got a metal one too, as backup. 

So now we're test-driving this new little folding cane! So far, she LOVES it. It's as little and light as the NFB ones, and the ceramic tip gives great auditory feedback. I don't know if the folding aspect will be a drawback, as some people say it doesn't give tactile feedback quite as precisely, but time will tell. 

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