How to Choose the Best Walker

How to Choose the Best Walker

You are looking to buy a walker. But what is the best type of walker for you? With the right walker, you’ll be more stable and have more energy. You will be able to go further, do more things on your own and have more adventures. The right walker makes everything easier. 

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a walker for yourself or a loved one. Is the walker needed for balance and stability or because of fatigue? Will it be used indoors or outdoors? Does it need to fold for storage and transport? What features are needed? And, do you like how it looks and functions? You are more likely to use a walker you love. 

Read on to learn more about different types of walkers and their best uses. 

Standard Walker

A standard walker is an aluminum walker that doesn’t have wheels. This type is best for someone who needs to lean a lot of weight on the walker- like after an injury or surgery. It is also good for someone who can’t control a rolling walker because of physical or cognitive issues. A con to a standard walker is that they have to be lifted with every step. Because of this a standard walker is not ideal for someone with balance issues. They can also take a bit more energy to use and can make you move a bit slower. Standard walkers are height adjustable and fold for storage and transport 

Rolling Walker

A rolling walker is a standard walker with 2 wheels on the front. The back legs have rubber tips or glides that slide along the floor and provide a bit of friction. Rolling walkers provide a more normal walking pattern than a standard walker since they do not need to be lifted off the ground with each step. They are ideal for those who need some stability but don’t need to put a lot of weight on the walker.

The front wheels don’t swivel which causes a two wheel walker to have a large turning radius. Because of this, people will often pick up the walker to turn it in a small space which can lead to a fall in someone prone to poor balance. The wheels on a rolling walker are small. This type of walker is not ideal for walking on uneven surfaces like outdoors or in a home that switches from carpet to hard floors often. Rolling walkers are height adjustable and also fold for storage and transport.

Rollator/4 Wheel Walker

A four wheel walker (also called a rollator) has 4 rotating wheels, hand brakes and a seat. They often come with baskets and other storage options.
Rollators allow for a more normal gait pattern than other types of walkers. They are easier to maneuver around turns and do not need to be lifted when turning. Having the seat is helpful for people with poor endurance that often need to rest when out for a walk.

But many of these features can cause problems too.  Because a rollator is easy to push, it can also roll away from the user if they don’t have the physical ability to control the walker.  

It is also so important to be safe when using the seat. The proper way to sit on a Rollator is to apply the permanent brakes, then sit down. People should NEVER be pushed on while sitting on the seat of the walker. This is a setup for a serious fall and possible head injury.

Rollators are available with many different types and sizes of tires. A smaller wheel is fine for smooth surfaces but is going to be hard to use on uneven terrain or in a house where the floor changes from carpet to hard from room to room. If you plan on using your rollator on uneven sidewalks or outdoor paths, choose a walker with larger tires. Many even come equipped with pneumatic air tires that help absorb bumps for a smoother walk. 

Rollators do fold but not as compactly as a standard or 2 wheel walker. They are also heavier so they can be a little harder to store and transport. 

the best walkers and rollators

2 in 1

A rollator transport chair combination has all the features of a rollator but is also designed to transport someone when they sit on the seat. They are equipped with foot rests and a seat angle that makes it safe for someone to be pushed while seated. These are ideal for people that don’t want to have to choose between using a walker and wheelchair when they go out.
They do fold but like a rollator, they can be heavy and don’t fold as flat as a standard walker.

rollator walker and transport chair in one

Do you need a walker with wheels?

Think about strength and stability when deciding if you want a walker with wheels. If the walker is being used to lean on and take weight, you are going to want to go with a walker without wheels. If stability and fatigue are an issue, wheeled walkers are the way to go. 

Do you need a walker with a seat?

If you like to have a place to rest at all times, a walker with a seat might be a good decision for you. It is convenient to always have a place to rest! As long as you can control the walker and don’t have to put too much weight on it, a rollator is a great solution for people who need frequent rest breaks when out having fun or running errands. Just DON’T allow people to give you a ride while you are on the seat!

Do you like the walker?

If you think the walker is ugly and you don’t like it, you won’t want to use it. It will likely get left behind and you will risk not being able to get very far or having a fall. There are many different styles and designs of walkers out there. Pick one that suits your style and your needs. 

Remember, there are many factors to consider when choosing the perfect walker for your needs. Top among them is your goal. What is the purpose of your walker? What do you plan on doing with it? Do you need to be able to store it compactly or transport it easily?

Choosing the right walker for your needs is a very personal decision. Ultimately, your choice will be based on your needs and what you want to accomplish. 

occupational therapist

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