Being able to walk “in-step” while using a white cane is a critical safety skill that provides the cane user the most amount of reaction time possible when detecting an object or drop-off with the cane. When walking “in-step” the person’s reaction time is equal to one full step or stride length. However, when walking “out-of-step” that reaction time is cut in half. Having the extra reaction time of a full step can mean the difference between safely avoiding a drop-off or an obstacle or not.
Walking “in-step” can be performed using both two-point touch or constant contact cane techniques depending on a person’s preference. When walking “in-step” it is important to note that the cane speed or how fast the cane moves side to side should be determined by a persons walking pace and not the other way around.
Before performing this skill it is important for the cane user to be able to maintain proper wrist, arm, and hand positions, as well as perform constant arc width.
STEP 1: Establish which foot you will be stepping with first.
STEP 2: Place the cane tip in front of the established foot from step 1
STEP 3: Begin moving by stepping forward with the established foot while simultaneously sweeping the cane in the opposite direction.
STEP 4: The stepping foot should strike the ground at the same time the cane arc ends on the opposite side of the body
STEP 5: Step with the next foot and sweep the cane back in the opposite direction, again aiming to have the foot strike the ground and the cane reach the end of its arc at the same time
STEP 6: Continue this pattern for the duration of the trip
Learning to walk “in-step” takes practice and does not come naturally for most people. I highly recommend spending the time to learn and develop this skill especially for safety. The more it is practiced the easier it will become until it eventually becomes second nature.
Please reach out to an Orientation & Mobility Specialist if you have questions or need assistance in learning this skill.
For a full step-by-step video demonstration click here
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