Methods for estimating the proper length of a cane

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1995 Dec;76(12):1173-5. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(95)80129-4.


Objective: To find a practical method of cane length measurement that achieves the elbow flexion of 20 degrees to 30 degrees.

Design: Two standard methods of cane length measurements were compared. Method I: Length of the cane measured from the floor to the top of the greater trochanter. Method II: Length of the cane measured from the floor to the distal wrist crease. Using an adjustable cane, each individual was fitted according to the two methods, and elbow angle was measured after each adjustment. Cane length was also correlated with arm length and height.

Participants: Fifty-two normal volunteers who were ambulatory without assistive devices.

Results: Mean +/- SD of the elbow angle according to Method I and Method II was 44.8 +/- 11.8 and 25.4 +/- 6.1, respectively. A significant difference was found in the elbow angle between the two methods (unpaired two-tailed student t test, p = 5.910(-18)). Of the 52 volunteers, 4 (7.7%) measured according to method I and 49 (94.3%) measured according to method II showed the elbow angle between 20 degrees and 30 degrees. The ideal length of the cane (L) also can be determined by the formula L = H x .45 + .87 meters or A x .76 + .19 meters, where H is the height of the individual in meters and A is the arm length measured in meters.

Conclusion: Ideally, cane length should be measured from the floor to the distal wrist crease. The length can also be determined using the above formulae.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anthropometry
  • Canes*
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged