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April 2004

Walk with a smile

By Robert Watson,
Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

For those of us that have been hit by a disability we understand the loss of freedom, the loss of independence, the loss of what we used to do and the reality of what we can do now. For most of us it causes a depression second to nothing we have ever experienced.

Llano Gorman knows this far too well. Llano had a major accident when he was thirty years old. He was on a ladder, the ladder broke he crashed down breaking his tibia, fibula causing a spiral fracture and blowing out his ankle. Llano at that time had an active family life. Three great kids all below the age of ten and an understanding wife. This accident caused depression not just in him but his whole family. Llano puts it this way "you never think this could ever happen to you, in a split second your life changes. You find out who you are, and what you are made of".

Some of the depression came from having to walk with a cane. Llanno was an accomplished athlete, involved in Football, Soccer, Archery, and even Marshal Arts. He wanted his kids to be in that world. This tore him apart. Due to the injury, Llano's right ankle has been fused and he walks the aid of a special support in his boot. He didn't want to use a cane, but his doctor warned him of the consequences.

"My doctor said hip surgery would be next if I didn't start using a cane," Llano recalls. "Walking unaided when a cane is medically warranted can prolong an injury, and in some cases, make the injury worse."

In the mist of all the depression, the pain and the loss, Llano came up with an idea that would help his family and himself. It would even make him feel that he was helping others deal with their injury. Llano hated using his cane because it was so ... Medical. He saw an instant opportunity. He set up a Web site,, and began sourcing, importing and selling a wide variety of canes and walking sticks. And don't simply think of a cane as a wooden stick with a crook for a handle. He has sticks that convert to Fishing Rods, Pool Que, Elegant Silver Canes, Canes with stones. You name it ... he just might have it.

Canes Canada display showing different styles of canes.

Llano still has his times of depression, however he has regained his life. He is moving forward. His Company is now two years old and he thinks it just might make a profit next year. One of his favourite sayings is "Walk with a Smile, and Walk with Style." His family is growing up and things are moving along. Far better than when he almost took his life.

Depression and disability is a reality, however helping others can help you take your eyes off your disability and your depression and help you regain your dignity and your life.

Walk with style

Extracts from Raising Canes by Greg Williams, first published in the Calgary Herald on November 28th 2002.

"Canes are like clothes; make them a fashion statement, don't make them a medical aid. Look smart and smell the roses."
"Get a few canes, one for indoors, one for outdoors, one for dressing up, and one for casual use ... a cane should make you feel good about yourself, whatever your need."

To be stylish a cane must be measured correctly, so it fits the person.

"To size a cane, stand erect wearing regular walking shoes. Turn the cane upside down, rest the handle on the floor. Bend the arm that will regularly use the cane slightly at the elbow. Note the position of the tip of the cane; it should set at the crease in the wrist, just above the hand. If it doesn't, the cane will need to be adjusted."

Canes must also be used properly, so they are both effective and acceptable ...

"Llano says it took him two weeks to get to the point where he was comfortable with a cane. One common mistake he sees people make when they get a cane is to use it on the wrong side. He says, a cane should be held in the hand opposite to the side of the injury - 'Think of it as a tripod'. In Llano's case, with his right foot injury, he walks with a cane in his left hand. When his right foot goes forward to take a step, so does his cane. That helps distribute the weight evenly so he is not putting more pressure on my left side as compensation."

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