DON'T THROW AWAY THE CANE

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Abstract

Summary

In his Presidential Address to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in January 1956, Dr. Blount, one of the true giants in orthopaedics, presented an eloquent argument for encouraging patients to use a cane to help with walking. The argument begins with an admonition to “educate the doctors, patients, employers, and the general public to turn back to the old order and to look upon the stick as a good friend.” Blount said that we must counteract the prejudices against the cane that developed in the middle of the twentieth century.

Summary

Blount then presented a classic and enduring description of the biomechanics of the hip, for the first time bringing to light many of the concepts developed by Pauwels and others in the German literature in the 1930s. Blount provided an elegant description of why one should use a cane in the opposite hand to limit the stresses on an affected hip.

Summary

Finally, Blount admonished us: “I should rather be remembered as a thoughtful surgeon than as a bold one.” It is in this context that he encouraged the use of a cane for the treatment of selected lower-extremity disorders, believing that it “may prove better for the patient and productive of a more desirable end result than some more heroic surgical procedure.”

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