The Right Walker to Help Maintain Your Autonomy
When a health problem arises or if your gait becomes unstable, a walker can help you maintain your autonomy while reducing the risk of a fall. Read on to discover the different kinds of walking aids and some advice if you’re thinking of buying one.
The right tool for the right person
A walker consists of a lightweight metal frame with four points of contact, either with or without wheels. The person uses it by lifting or pushing the walker forward. Walkers are useful for people with a functional limitation, for example, those who often experience shortness of breath, who suffer arthritic pain or muscle weakness, or have balance problems.
Types of walkers and rollators
There are four main types of walkers:
- The basic four-tip model without wheels. These walkers are very stable, as the tips are non-slip, however the user must lift the walker to move it.
- The model with two wheels in front takes less effort to move than the basic model, and does not require the user to use brakes, as the two rear tips (without wheels) prevent the walker from advancing when pressed down.
- The four-wheeled model allows the users to move with minimum effort, however it requires them to apply the brakes to stop.
- The three-wheeled model (one in front, two in the rear, with brakes) is easy to maneuver but provides a bit less support than the four-wheeled model.
Walker buying guide
- Opt for wheels that are well-suited to the terrain you plan to use the walker on, for example, bigger wheels if you spend a lot of time outdoors.
- Remember to test the handles for comfort.
- If the walker has brakes, make sure they are easy to use and that you have sufficient strength to apply them properly.
- Choose a model with a built-in seat so you can sit down and take a break without having to look for somewhere to sit.
- If you plan to carry things around with you, opt for a model that comes with a basket that’s big enough for your needs.
- Look for a light weight walker that folds up easily, especially if you plan to transport it in a vehicle on a regular basis.
Adjusting the walker is key
It is crucial to adjust the height of the walker to avoid placing unnecessary stress on your shoulders and back. When adjusting the walker height, make sure you are wearing your everyday shoes.
To determine the correct height, stand straight within the frame of the walker, arms hanging loosely by your sides. The top of the walker frame should be level with the crease in your wrist.If you’re thinking of buying a walking aid for yourself or a loved one, your pharmacy may have a section of products to try out or order and you can get them adjusted properly. Some provinces even offer programs to help pay for walking devices. Check with your doctor or pharmacy team to know if such a program exists in your province.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.