Assistive Devices: Walkers

Walkers are specialty equipment that are becoming more visible and prominent as our population ages. Our elderly are still active enough and are not quite ready to be confined to a wheelchair. As we age our balance might not be as strong as it use to be. In addition, walkers are not just for the seniors, but rather for any one that needs additional stability when walking. Some children have difficulty on walking and walkers aid in that development.

Basic walkers have 4 legs, in which a person has a frame on 3 sides of them for stability. With each step forward they need to lift the entire walker up and forward and then walks forward into the frame.

Two wheeled walkers have two front caster wheels on the front legs, and plastic ski glides, glide caps or walker balls on the rear legs. The walker balls are sometimes made from tennis balls with different patterns other than the usual yellow or green tennis balls that you use to play with. Sometimes a person does not have the strength or dexterity to lift a walker. The two wheels in the front and glides in the rear provide an easier of movement, and still create the stability for the user

Four wheeled walkers are sometimes called rollators. Most rollators have a seat to provide a place to rest on short or long walks. Some have hand brakes to slow or stop the walker from moving, and others require that you push down on the handles to stop the walker from moving forward.

Posterior walkers are usually used by children who are learning to walker. These walkers are used in reverse from the conventional walker. The walker is actually behind the person. Basically the person walks forward and then pulls the walker behind them for stability, and usually the wheels are setup for one-way direction so that the walker does not go backwards.

Gait Trainer are used to help train a person to avoid scissoring, the crossing of the legs. These walkers provide prompts to aid in training a person to walk.

Height positioning of a walker is crucial for proper usage. In general, the height of the grips should line up with the wrist. Positioning the handle too low and the person will be hunched over in an uncomfortable position. Too high of a position, and the person will have a harder time transferring his or her weight. Height adjustments can be made by sliding the legs up and down and positioning the push bottom mechanism in the correct position. You should consult the vendor or read the manual for your particular walker.

Walker sizes range from Pediatric to Bariatric (a capacity of 1000 lbs).

There are a variety of accessories that make the walker useful to a person. Baskets to hold your stuff, Cup holders to hold that cold beverage during the summer months and that Starbucks Premium coffee during the winter months. Trays are available when you want to have a meal or play cards with your friends.

You should consult with your healthcare profession in the use of a walker. For more information, please visit

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