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What to Look for When Buying a Medical Walker

A walker is an aid that is an assistive step further than a walking cane but which may precede the use of a wheelchair. If your health needs suddenly demand a walker, it's important to put some time into choosing the right one.

Ask yourself the following questions when shopping for medical walkers:

  • What do you need in the walker? Many people prefer wheeled walkers while some want ones that remains more stable.
  • How often will you be using the walker? Although this could increase over time, you may only be using it on certain occasions to start.
  • Where will you be going? If you plan to use your walker outdoors, you might consider a rolling walker with extra-high-quality wheels since you will be using it on pavement and other hard, uneven surfaces. Walkers without wheels offer more support than rolling walkers but also require the user to slightly lift the walker off the ground with each step.

Your medical doctor or physiotherapist will also be able to guide you in your purchase. Once you have a clear idea of what you want, visit a store to try out some options. The salespeople there will be helpful in determining the proper fit. In addition to the needs addressed by the above questions, they will take into account the user's height and weight.

Newspaper advertisements can help advise you of walker sales, and your doctor may be able to point you to a walkers warehouse with a wide selection of devices.

You must also keep in mind what accessories you might want for the walker:

  • Hand grips offer more comfort for the user. Try as many different grips as you like until you find some that feel comfortable in your hand. Ask your salesperson what the grips are made of, since some materials are much more durable than others.
  • Three-legged frames are more maneuverable but are not as stable as four-legged walkers. They may be ideal for users in small apartments or those who need to go around corners frequently.
  • There are a variety of different brakes for users with different strengths. Consider if you want pressure, cable or locking brakes. Users with weak hands or wrists should take into consideration the pain that might be inflicted by using certain brakes.
  • Some walkers have built-in seats for users who might be out and about and need to take a break. Ask your doctor if a sitter is something you should consider. Keep in mind, though, that sitters and walkers often have a different shape than other walkers, so although a seat might appeal to you, it may not be practical.

Walkers are bound to get more use as time goes on, so lots of time and effort should be spent choosing one that is right for you.

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