ABOUT BELT CANES
Essential to achievement of independent walking with safety
Belt canes are essential tools for children born blind or mobility visually impaired because they enable them to begin walking on time, enable later walkers to start walking, or help those walking infrequently to walk age appropriately.
The pediatric belt cane consists of a lightweight rectangular frame that connects with magnets to a custom made belt. The base of the cane slides along the floor with approximately one inch surface clearance between the two cane tips.
The cane frame remains forward of the wearer when walking. Young children find the wearable design easier to use for consistent safety. The haptic feedback from the cane tips gliding along the surface also aids their balance so that they can let go of objects and people.
The adult can assist the child to learn how to correctly position the cane frame, when needed. Adults are responsible the child wearing the device, however children can learn to don and doff the belt cane independently.
Pediatric belt canes are an effective, developmentally appropriate mobility tool. The belt makes it possible for toddlers and preschoolers who are blind or mobility visually impaired to easily maintain consistent placement of the protective frame. When children wear their belt canes the cane frame is always in the right place at the right time, allowing them to walk independently with safety.
Donning the Pediatric Belt cane.
The belt is fastened about the hips so that it fits snugly and comfortably
Choose the correct frame for location.
The standard frame is the correct cane length for the learner’s height and should be used during most activities and in most locations. Also, the cane tips on the standard frame are reinforced by steel plates which allows them to glide over most surfaces.
The specialty frame is 90% of the length of the standard frame, allowing closer inspection of forward objects and the cane tips are positioned to reduce catching on furniture. The specialty frame is intended for in small homes, cluttered familiar environments, lots of furniture, no drop-offs.
Attach the cane frame. The belt cane frame is positioned to allow the magnets to securely click into their respective connectors on either side of the belt.
The goal of wearing the belt cane is to achieve the child's developmental potential. Any blind child who has the potential to walk independently will need the belt cane on as many hours as they are expected to be physically active. Wearing the belt cane enables blind toddlers to achieve their age appropriate walking milestones (Ambrose-Zaken, 2022).
Limit wearing belt without frame
Introduce wearing the belt cane as a unit. You might have the student hold the frame with two hands and push in front to demonstrate the purpose of the cane frame to the student and assist in the transition to clicking the frame magnets onto the belt- saying "the cane will protect you and you don't have to hold it all the time”. The more your student wears the belt cane as a unit the better the acceptance.
As students grow, they will need a larger size belt cane until they are able to transition to hand-held mobility tools. Older students can learn to disconnect the frame to begin pushing it as a rectangular cane. The most important outcome is that they use a safe mobility tool every day, most of the day.
The belt works best when it is snug. The size is correct when the ends close only half-way. The fastener has an extraordinarily strong grip and takes a strong pinch to close securely.
Two cane frames:
The longer frame design is the standard frame. It is the correct length for the child's height and recommended to be used for most activities. If there are any drop-offs (curbs, stairs) the standard frame is safest. The standard frame tips’ metal glides move across most surfaces. For example, in a large indoor mall, the standard frame is recommended.
The shorter, tight spaces cane, frame is designed for use in cluttered living rooms with furniture with legs. This shorter frame does not have metal glide material on the tips and the angle of the frame is less forgiving, that’s why it is recommended for use in small, cramped spaces.
Should we introduce the belt without the cane frame, first?No, the child receives no benefit from just wearing the belt. The cane frame is the benefit of wearing the belt cane. Introduce the belt and cane frame at the same time. It may help to introduce the cane frame first. Have the child hold the frame with two hands and push in front. This helps demonstrate the purpose of the cane frame to the child and perhaps ease the transition to then clicking the frame into the magnets- "it protects you and you don't have to hold it".
How do you separate the magnet from the belt?An adult can release the magnet by pushing one corner of the black magnet socket away from the magnet.
What to do when the child can take cane frame off?Check belt closure recommendations (sizing). The belt fits when the end of the belt is half way on the mushroom head fastener. II. If the belt fits well, but still separates? Answer: the belt cane frame may be too wide for the child. A temporary fix is to add soft material between in between the magnet port and the belt to reduce the need of the elastic to stretch to connect to the magnet port.