The Complete Guide to Walkers

Independence | Mobility | Dignity

1. What are the types of walking frames?

Walking frames may have three or four legs. Wheels or Slides are added as an alternative to lifting the walking frame. The wheels provide the user with greater mobility but require greater balance. When wheels are added the walking frame requires some method of braking. This may include glides, back stoppers, push down brakes or hand operated brakes.

  1. Pick up frame
    • stable if used correctly
    • requires a difficult gait pattern
    • cheapest to purchase
    • wheels may be added to increase mobility (no lifting required)
    • slides may be added if wheels are added (no lifting required)
  2. Wheeled Frame
    • more easier to walk with but requires greater balance and control
    • four wheels are generally more stable than three wheels
    • large wheels are more suitable for outdoors because of uneven surfaces
    • small swivel wheels provide more manoeuvrability but are only suitable for indoors or reasonable surfaces

2. What are the important things to consider before selecting a walker?

The careful selection of a walking frame is important. The choice will depend upon the reason the person is considering using a walking frame.

This will include:
1. the environment in which the walking frame will be used
2. the physical stature and ability of the user
3. the strength, posture and hand ability of the user

Issues to consider include:

  1. Indoors
    • floor surfaces (smooth lino, polished timber, carpet, etc,)
    • space available where used (beside the bed, doorways, toilet, etc.)
    • changes in surface (steps)
  2. Outdoors
    • ground surface
    • slope
    • distance
    • transport of walker when not in use

3. What are the important features of a walker?

  1. Wheels
    • large wheels are more suitable for outdoor use
    • small swivel wheels provide more manoeuvrability but are suitable for indoor use as they are unstable on uneven surfaces
    • pneumatic tyres absorb shocks and are lighter for their size but require pumping up
    • wheels wear out and ready replacements must be available
  2. Height
    • frames should be adjustable and set to the correct natural height of the user
  3. Weight
    • the lighter the walker the better, however it must have sufficient strength to support the weight and strength of the user
    • chromed steel is stronger but heavier than aluminium
    • attachments add weight
  4. Handgrips
    • size, position and shape
    • comfort (soft or hard material)
    • forearm supports to transfer weight from hands to forearms if necessary
  5. Braking
    • push down on spring loaded wheels is not suitable if user is leaning heavily on frame during use
    • hand brakes are inappropriate if a hand weakness exists
      • bicycle type
      • lever incorporated in handle to assist with hand coordination
      • loop to assist with hand coordination
  6. Folding or non-folding
    • fold easily
    • folding mechanism easy to operate
    • size of the walking frame when folded
  7. Accessories
    • carry bags may be wire or vinyl, depending upon the need to fold up for transport
    • a resting seat and its ease of use
    • tray and its ease of use and ability to be folded away