Musculoskeletal consequences of travel aid use among visually impaired adults: Directions for future research and training

Julie Mount, Laura N. Gitlin, Paul D. Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Travel aids are essential to support the full integration of visually impaired adults into work, leisure and self-care activities. However, the unnatural postures, sustained muscle contractions and repetitive motions involved in using travel aids put travelers at risk for musculoskeletal problems resulting in pain. Little is known about the physical consequences of using travel aids. This paper analyzes physical issues related to travel aid use based on focus groups with 21 users of white canes and dog guides. Cane users described pain in the wrist and back related to manipulation of the cane. They experienced discomfort from 'stabbing' by their canes when walking on cracked sidewalks. Persons assisted by dogs complained of shoulder, wrist, and back pains attributed to being pulled, and shin and heel pain related to increased walking speeds. Cane and dog users complained of tension in the back during travel and pain in the arm and back associated with carrying heavy loads unilaterally. Recommendations are made for reducing travel-related discomfort through exercise, education, and technology. Suggestions are presented for future research based on this study's findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-167
Number of pages9
JournalTechnology and Disability
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997
Externally publishedYes



  • Assistive devices
  • Blindness
  • Musculoskeletal problems
  • Visual impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Informatics

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