About Medical Walkers
Medical walkers are used by individuals who need a base of support while walking and moving around indoors and outdoors. These individuals include older persons and persons who have poor balance, general weakness, impaired movement coordination, limited lower body bearing ability and other debilitating conditions.
Medical walkers make users feel safe and gain confidence as they recover from injuries or illnesses. The walkers provide them with mobility and stability so that they can recover faster or continue with their daily activities.
General Types of Medical Walkers
Nowadays, there are a myriad of designs, styles and features of medical walkers available in the market. They are different in their number of wheels, wheel sizes, frame material, frame sizes, folding systems, height adjustments, accessories and other features. Some of the more common types and designs are described here.
Standard Medical Walkers
Standard medical walkers consist of 4 legs held by a lightweight but durable and rigid frame. It is usually made of aluminum. Users need to have a certain level of upper body strength and movement coordination because they need to grip the handles of the walker, lift the walker and move it forward.
Rolling Medical Walkers
Rolling medical walkers are wheeled walkers. There are walkers with wheels only on the rear legs and there are walkers with wheels all on their 3 or 4 legs. The 3-wheeled or 4-wheeled walkers are more popularly known as rollators.
Because of their easier mobility, these rolling medical walkers are more popular than standard walkers with users who have lower levels of strength and balance. Users do not need to lift them. They just roll them and then walk.
There are also numerous designs and styles of rolling medical walkers. They are different in the designs of their braking systems, storage accessories, seating systems and handles.
Most rolling medical walkers are used with their frame in front of the user while walking. Some researchers however have recommended that children with disabilities are better helped by walkers with the frame behind them.
Hemi Medical Walkers
Hemi medical walkers are one-handed walkers and are used by persons who have limited or no dexterity with one hand or arm. These walkers have four leg extensions and are handled like a quad cane. These walkers also need a certain level of body strength and movement coordination because they need to lift the walker and then move it forward.
Reciprocal Medical Walkers
Reciprocal medical walkers are used by persons with higher levels of body strength and movement coordination. These have swivel joints that allow the user to move forward one side of the frame alternatively and independently of the other side.
Tips for Choosing and Using Medical Walkers
When checking medical walkers, consider your weight, size, needs and preferences. Match your measurements and needs with the walker's size, seat height, wheel size, accessories and weight support capacity.
Your wrist should reach the top of the handles easily. The seat height should not be too low that you have difficulty standing up. If you will use your medical walker outdoors most of the time, then choose larger wheels. Larger wheels easily go over humps, uneven grounds and cracks. Make sure that all height and handle adjustments are secure and practice using and locking the brakes to prevent accidents.