A walker or walking frame is a tool for people who need additional support to maintain balance or stability while walking. It consists of an anodized aluminum frame that is about waist high, approximately twelve inches deep and slightly wider than the user.


Walkers are also available in other sizes such as Pediatric (for children) or Bariatric (for overweight or obese persons). Modern walkers are height adjustable and should be set at a height that is comfortable for the user, but will allow the user to maintain a slight bend in their arms. This bend is needed to allow for proper blood circulation through the arms as the walker is used. The front two legs of the walker may or may not have wheels attached depending on the strength and abilities of the person using it. It is also common to see caster wheels or glides on the back legs of a walker with wheels on the front.


A valuable consideration when selecting the right and perfect walker for you or your loved one is to consider the size and radius of the wheels. The larger the radius, the easier it will be to navigate and transition from one type of flooring to another, over bumps and varying heights on the ground, traverse ice and snow, glide the walker with ease, etc. Many people think that having wheels on both the front and back of the frame will make walking easier. This is not a safe selection of model and style.


It is important to have a “stop gap” process for someone who has difficulty walking without mechanical assistance. When the back of the frame has a walker glide or a rubber tip, this provides a stop backup for them, so the walker “does not get away from under them”.


The person walks with the frame surrounding their front and sides and their hands provide additional support by holding on to the top of the sides of the frame. Traditionally, a walker is picked up and placed a short distance ahead of the user. The user then walks to it and repeats the process. With the use of wheels and glides, the user may push the walker ahead as opposed to picking it up. This makes for easier use of the walker, as it does not require the user to use their arms to lift the walker. This is beneficial for those with little arm strength.


A walker is a good tool for those who are recuperating from leg or back injuries. It is also commonly used by persons having problems with walking or with mild balance problems.


Also related is a hemi-walker, a walker about half the size of a traditional walker which is intended for use by persons with whose dexterity is limited or non-existent in one hand or arm. These walkers are more stable than a quad cane (a cane with four points that touch the ground, as opposed to one), but are not recommended as highly as a traditional walker for those who can use it.


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