Walking aids can assist with balance, reduce fatigue or pain and facilitate a safe walking pattern. Various sizes and styles are available and selection should be made based on the person’s abilities, needs, environment and body shape. It is important that walking aids are purchased or adjusted to the correct height and size. It is best to seek advice and training from a health professional before making a selection.
Types of walkers beyond the basic model include:
- Three or four-wheeled walking frames
Three or four-wheeled walkers provide more support than walking sticks and are designed for users who can walk reasonably well but who would benefit from extra support over longer distances. Three-wheeled walkers are easy to maneuver but are less stable than four-wheeled models (which have a larger base of support) and are therefore rarely recommended. Wheeled walking frames are generally designed for both indoor and outdoor use and feature either bicycle-style hand brakes or push down brakes.
- Two-wheeled (Rollator) walking frames
Two-wheeled walkers (also known as Rollator frames) are generally recommended for users who can stand with light support but require additional support when walking. They are most suited to indoor use and shorter distances. They feature two wheels or castors at the front, and rubber stoppers (also known as ferrules) or glides (also known as skis) at the rear. Some models have wheels that swivel which can provide better maneuverability but may be less stable. Stoppers offer greater stability than glides; however, glides are easier to push over some floor surfaces.
- Static (pick-up) walking frames
Static (also known as pick-up) walking frames have four rubber stoppers (no wheels). They are generally recommended for users who require even more assistance and support when standing and walking and are designed for short distances. When using the frames, stand upright holding the frame with both hands. Lift the frame forwards a small distance and put it down with all four tips firmly on the ground. Step forward with one leg whilst placing body weight through the frame and then bring the other leg alongside. Avoid stepping too far forward to prevent over-balancing. A sufficient level of strength and balance is required to use the walkers safely. Most static frames fold for storage or transportation and the height is measured using a similar process to the other walking frames.