Don’t know how to choose a walker? One billion people need assistive devices globally (1) Whether you’re elderly, injured, or with a disability, there is a correct type of walking aid for you.
After comprehensive research, we found the answer! Here are easy ways to know which assistive devices are the best.
READ MORE: How Much Are Walkers?
How To Pick A Upright Mobility Walker Depending On Its Type
Atlanta certified physical therapist Taylor Galmarini says that “Anyone who is experiencing trouble keeping their balance should see a movement specialist, to assess gait problems.” (2)
She added, “The medical practitioner can recommend the best help equipment for the person depending on their walking abilities, balance, strength, endurance, and size.”
1) Standard Walker
They have more points of contact with the ground, walkers give support on both sides of the body and are driven with both hands, and walkers provide great support than a single cane. (3)
This is what you use like a walker. It has four separate rubber-tipped legs and must be lifted to move.
Who Should Use a Standard Walker?
These walkers are for people who can manage their mobility problems and those who still have a regular walking pattern.
Though known to help assist in mobility issues, people who need to travel great distances might not like these walkers because of how they work. It does not have a wheel rollator.
Heavy-duty and junior-sized walkers are the most common types of standard walkers. These are best used indoors.
If you spend a lot of time at home, a standard walker is the best choice. Standard walkers are also the lightest on the market, making them easy to store and move.
How to Use a Standard Walker?
To use a standard walker, pick up the walker and move it in the direction you want to move it in.
There are two handgrips on the handrail of a standard walker. Take a step only when all four legs are on the ground. If the walker has long legs, glides or caps can sometimes be added (glider walker).
This can make it easier to walk naturally.
2) Two-Wheeled Walker
Also known as rolling walkers, this two-wheeled (rolling) walker has wheels on the two front legs, it is good if you need some, but not all the time, help with weight-bearing.
Who Should Use a Two-Wheeled Walker?
These are for people who can’t lift or move the walker independently. Rolling walkers are made to give support in front of them (anterior walker) or the back (rear walker) (posterior walker).
If you’re a slow walker, two-wheeled is also a good choice. Your physical therapist will figure out which is best for you.
How to Use a Two-Wheeled Walker?
Put your body weight on it as you walk. Then, the wheels will help with the rest of the movement.
Backward two-wheel walkers can help you keep your balance and posture in place, even if you have to stand or walk.
To use this type of walker, you’ll need to stand in the middle with the support in the back and then walk. Pulling the walker from behind as you step forward will happen next.
These walkers are good at moving on flat ground, but they can’t be used on rocky outdoor terrain, rough terrain, or uneven surfaces.
Two-wheel walkers are also great because they usually come ready to go. You don’t have to make any complicated changes.
3) Rollator Walkers
They are made for people who don’t need to lean on the walker itself for balance but still need help moving, balancing, etc. These types of walkers are front-wheeled walkers.
The common types of rollators are the four-wheel walker and the three-wheeled walker.
4) Four-Wheeled Walker
These walkers have four wheels and are meant for those who need balance support but do not depend on the walker to stand, walk, or have upright mobility.
5) Three-Wheeled Walker
This tri walker helps you keep your balance like four-wheeled walkers, but it is lighter and easier to move around.
Who Should Use a Rollator Walker?
This is good for people who love to take long walks but need a little support. Some tri-wheel walkers have a built-in comfortable seat or a seat basket if you choose to rest.
Its triangular shape makes it easy to fit into a wide range of places, and when folded, it is easy to move and store.
How to Use Rollator Walkers?
Use it like any of your wheeled walkers. If you have a small space, three-wheeled and four-wheeled walkers can be easier to move around, but they can be a little less stable than four-wheeled ones.
6) Bariatric Walkers
Bariatric Walker is a walker that can be used by people who weigh more than 300 pounds.
These walkers are stronger and more stable than other different types of walkers for elderly. For added comfort, the seat is a little wider.
7) Knee Walkers
A platform for resting the knees is included with these walkers. The walker can be propelled forward using the leg that is not resting.
8) Upright Walkers
Upright walkers are a new addition to the line-up of walkers that allow the user to continue standing straight rather than hunching over or bending down while using the walker.
This is beneficial for posture and body composition, but it may not be the best option for individuals who have difficulty standing upright.
Check our guide about what is the best upright walker.
Considerations When Choosing A Walker
1. The Price
The price range starts from $35 to $250, with differing quality and materials.
2. The Weight Capacity
Always consider the patient’s height, weight, and lifting abilities. Lightweight models are essential because the user would need to move or transfer the walker away from the uneven ground.
3. The Fit
Whatever walker you choose, be sure it fits before purchasing it. You’ll need to measure your wrist height to find the best fit for your walker. (4)
Remember that a walker is designed to support your leaning weight, not your entire weight.
Watch this video to know how to adjust your walker height.
4. The Size
Is the patient a frequent traveler outside of their home? If that’s the case, look for a walker that folds up for convenient storage and transportation.
5. The Peripherals
For wheeled walkers, the patient should be able to control both the wheels and the wheel brakes. You can prepare one with wire baskets, a storage compartment, and a good frame design.
6. The Seat
Walking can be tiring, so your walker better has a well-padded seat for resting. Look up built-in seat designs such as canvas seats or comfortable nylon seats.
Gain confidence in navigating stairs with a walker by watching our informative video, “How To Use A Walker On Stairs!”
Also Read: Where Can I Buy a Walker?
What is the safest walker for the elderly?
A standard and two-wheeled (rolling) walker for the best stability. If they have mild balance problems, a rollator walker is not advised.
Is a walker or rollator better?
Walker is better for indoor use and support, while rollators are better for long walks outside of the home.
What is the right height for a walker?
The proper height for a walker is the comfortable height. Walkers come with adjustable handle heights for the patient. Talk to your physical therapist to adjust your assistive walking devices.
Which Walker Is The Best For You?
Depending on your needs, especially for upper body strength, go for two-wheeled or the standard one. If you can balance well, go for the rollators and do not need firm mobile support for long walks.
As we age, walkers are our best friends that will assist us in doing our day-to-day activities.
When buying a walker, ensure to know your needs like how much does a walker weigh and buy your perfect assistive device.
Have you figured out how to choose a walker? Share with us your insights down in the comment section!
- 1. World Health Organization: WHO. Assistive technology [Internet]. Who.int. World Health Organization: WHO; 2018. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/assistive-technology
- 2. Erickson Gabbey A. Gait and Balance Problems: Causes and Treatment [Internet]. Healthline. 2019. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/gait-and-balance-problems
- 3. Acosta K. A Guide To The Best Walkers For Seniors [Internet]. Forbes Health. 2022 [cited 2022 Apr 12]. Available from: https://www.forbes.com/health/healthy-aging/best-walkers-for-seniors/
- 4. Walkers J. Tips & Advice Center: Walker Tips [Internet]. Just Walkers. [cited 2022 Apr 12]. Available from: https://justwalkers.com/pages/walkers-tips