Tips for Dealing With Walkers

Modern walkers are medical devices that allow people who have mobility issues to safely walk around. If someone is at risk of falling, or they break a bone in their leg or ankle, their physical therapist may recommend using a walker. At the Injury Care Center, we help our clients decide if they need a walker. We also help them choose the best type of walker that will fit their needs and body type. Our injury centers offer doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists who use the best evidence-based equipment and medicine. We give each client the attention he or she deserves. 


Choose the Right Type of Walkers

There are several different types of walkers. Selecting the right type of walker will help you be as mobile as possible. Your medical doctor or physical therapist can help you determine which walker is right for your mobility needs. The following are common types of walkers that people with mobility needs frequently use:

  • A standard walker has four legs. The legs have non skid, rubber tips on the ends of them. You pick this walker up to move it as you walk. 
  • Two-wheel walkers have two wheels and two straight front legs. You need to pick this walker up to move it.
  • Three-wheeled walkers provide support and balance like four-wheel walkers, but they are lighter in weight and easier to maneuver.
  • Four-wheeled walkers are for people who do not need to lean on the walker for balance. These walkers are the fastest moving of all of the walkers, and newer devices come with brakes where the handle bars are to help people slow down when necessary.
  • A knee walker is meant to rest your knee and is useful for people who are recovering from knee or ankle injuries. After surgery, many doctors will require patients to use a knee walker for a certain period of time. Using this walker allows you to move around without putting weight on your injured knee or foot. 


Protect Your Back by Not Leaning Over Your Walker

Individuals who use a walker may already suffer from some back challenges or difficulties. When using your walker, ask your physical therapist to adjust the height of your walker so it is optimal. When a walker’s height is too low, you will be more tempted to hunch over your walker. When the height of the walker is too high, it can be difficult to maneuver the walker properly. When walking with the walker, protect your back by staying upright as you move around. Make sure that you step into the walker, do not just walk behind it. Also, do not push the walker too far in front of you. If you do so, you will always be chasing your walker, causing you to hunch over more and injure your back. 


Check Your Surroundings to Avoid a Slip and Fall in Your Walker 

Even though walkers provide people with mobility who would not otherwise be able to get around, they can still be dangerous. Every year, approximately 1.5 million people are injured from a fall accident. Some of those slip and fall accidents happen to people using walkers. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention, nearly 50,000 people age 65 and older become injured from falls every year while using walking aids that land them in the hospital for treatment. Additionally, people using walkers are seven times more likely to fall than those using a cane. 

How should you go about preventing a fall in your walker? When using your walker, always check for objects on the ground that could cause you to trip. Wear shoes with low heels that have good grips so that you are less likely to slip. Ask for help if you come across floor surfaces that are slippery, uneven, cracked, or carpeted. Another great way to avoid falling with a walker is to receive training on how to use your walker. If you are not already in physical therapy, you may wish to engage in some physical therapy lessons focused on using your walker. 


Make Sure Your Walker Fits Your Body Height

One of the most important tips for using a walker is to take the time to ensure that it has the proper fit. When you first get the type of walker recommended by your health care practitioner, you will need to adjust the walker to meet your needs. Every walker comes with an owner’s manual and we recommend reading yours thoroughly after you first receive your walker. If you have questions while reading the manual, be sure to ask your medical practitioner. Here are a few tips for fitting your walker to your body:

  • Make sure the walker’s legs are locked and that the folding mechanism is in a locked position.
  • Make sure the hand grips do not move around and that they are tight on the bars. 
  • If you plan on using a basket on your walker in which to place small items, be sure to install the basket according to the instructions in the owner’s manual. 
  • Make sure your walker supports your leaning weight, not your standing weight. Those who need extra weight support can purchase a bariatric walker.
  • If you are a tall person, you may need to purchase a walker that is specially designed for adults with taller frames. The same goes for those who are shorter in stature. Your physical therapist should be able to help you choose the right type of walker. 


Maintain Your Walker as You Use it

If you use your walker every day, it will probably receive some wear and tear. Be sure regularly check your walker over to make sure it does not have any damaged or broken parts. Check to make sure that the rubber tips on the legs of the walker are not missing, worn, or ripped. 


Contact the Injury Care Center

If you think you may need a walker, or you need help learning to use your walker, we can help. The Injury Care Center offers individualized and effective medical practices to help you live your best life. Reach out to us today.