Different types of walking frames for disabled people

Walking frames

There are different types of equipment to help disabled people walk. What is best depends where you are walking, whether you need a seat, or a shopping trolley or a tray, or a mixture of these. Many people have more than one type, for different purposes, indoor and outdoor, shopping or gardening.  I don’t believe there is a ‘best mobility walker’ as they all do different things, which you need to take into account.

Walking frames and Zimmer frames

A walking frame is an aid for disabled or elderly people who need extra support to maintain balance or stability while walking. They are also known as Zimmer frames in the United Kingdom, after Zimmer Holdings who are a major manufacturer of these types of devices.

walking frameThe design consists of a lightweight surround, about waist high, approximately 12 inches (30 cm) deep and slightly wider than the person using it. Walking frames are also available in other sizes such as paediatric for children or bariatric for large or obese persons. Walkers are usually height adjustable to allow a comfortable height for the user.  The height should let the user keep a small bend in their arms. This bend is essential to enable the blood to circulate through the arms as the walker is used. The front legs of the walker may have wheels attached, depending on the strength of the person using it. If you are looking for a simple mobility walker this could be what you need.

Tri walkers

Tri-walkers are 3 wheeled walking frames with a light frame and three solid wheels. They are compact and simple to use, and tri-walkers can usually be folded for storage and making them easy to transport. If you are looking for lightweight, folding walking frames this could be what you need.

Rollators

Rollators have a different approach to the walker, but are a type of 3 wheeled, or, more often, 4 wheeled mobility walkers.  The original rollator was invented by a Swedish inventor called Aina Wifalk, in 1978. When Aina was 21, she developed polio, and when she was around fifty, she had the idea for the rollator. Although initially a brandrolltor name, rollator has become a generic name for 4 wheeled mobility walkers in several countries and is also the most common type of walker in several European countries. Aina wanted to help as many disabled people as possible, so she never patented her designs.

The rollator has a frame with 3 or 4 large wheels, handlebars, with brakes, and a seat, which allows the user to rest if required. Rollators often have a shopping basket or bag, and Rollators are usually more advanced than other wheeled walkers. They are height adjustable in and light-weight, yet a lot sturdier than conventional walkers. The brakes are typically lifted up or pushed down to instantly stop the rollator. With practice, the brakes can be used in manoeuvring the rollator; for example by braking on one side while turning towards that side a much tighter turning can be achieved. If you are looking for sturdy 4 wheeled mobility walkers this could be what you need.

What to consider when buying mobility walkers

As with all mobility aids, you need to think about what you want and need from the product you are purchasing. If you get tired quickly when out, you could benefit from buying in a rollator, as they usually come fitted with a seat, for taking breaks from walking. On the other hand, do you struggle with your strength and find some walking aids too weighty and bulky for you to manage? If that is the case, a lightweight tri-walker could be a better buy for you. Do you have your own car, or do you travel by taxi or bus? Do you go out alone? Do you walk long distances? All these things need to be taken into account as a rollator sounds excellent, but if you travel alone by bus you could find it difficult to lift, and space could be a problem, although with your own care and someone accompanying you it could be ideal. The rollator you find ideal for shopping may be too difficult to manoeuvre around the house. A smaller indoor rollator or a wheeled walking frame with a tray fitted could help you move things from room to room as well as helping with your walking and balance.

Conclusion

4 wheeled mobility walkerIf you are looking for mobility walkers, you have to think about what you need before purchasing.  You may decide to buy an expensive one that will be useful for all your needs, or it may be better for you to buy 2 or even 3 cheaper ones to do different jobs. However, make sure you are buying what you need and not throwing your money away on something you cannot use.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me and I will try to help you.

Disability walking aids – what do you choose?

If you begin to have difficulty walking it is time to start looking at disability walking aids; this can be a momentous decision in anyone’s life. There are many walking aids you can look at, and there are many types. The first thing you need to decide is, do you need a walking stick or a crutch?

Here are a few things to think about before you buy

Types of walking sticks.

There are many types of walking sticks out there, but which one is right for you? The things you need to consider include:

  • What design of handle do you need?
  • Material do you want it made from?
  • What other features do you want?

Handles

The handle of you walking stick is an integral part of the walking stick for your use and here are some of the more common types to look at.

  • Tourist, crook or hook – This is the handle most commonly associated with a walking stick, and the oldestcrook handle walking stick design. It is an inverted ‘J’ which can be used in either hand and can be hung over the arm when not in use.
  • Fritz and Derby – Both the Fritz and Derby are open-ended, almost straight handles which can be used in either hand. People with arthritis, or sensitive hands many prefer these handle as fingers have more space to move.
  • Ergonomic and Fischer. These are sometimes referred to as comfort grip, due to their shape. They increase the ease of the grip for the user which is very important for users with disabilities which also involve their hands or wrists and better spread the load from the user into the stick itself. You need to buy the left or right-handed walking stick.

Material

The two most common types of walking stick material are, most obviously, wood and aluminium. Wooden walking sticks are usually ash, cherry or oak as they are beautiful to look at and very strong. However, there are rarer types of wood from all over the world, and you can find some beautiful wooden sticks. Aluminium is a newer, and lighter, type of stick and there are a lot of different coloured and patterned ones on the market.

Other features

Walking sticks have lots of other features to consider too. Do you want to be able to fold it when it is not in use? How about adjusting it to the right size? Do you need a shooting stick, which turns into a one-legged perch, or a folding chair to rest a while? What about an umbrella stick for days out? The choice is endless. You can get decorative walking sticks made to match your outfit, and you can even combine two features such as an adjustable folding walking stick.

You can have them handmade, to your specifications or buy them as a premade standard issue, and you can also purchase specialised walking sticks such as extra long or extra short.

Types of crutches

Again there are many types of crutches, and again you can have them made of wood or aluminium. The styles are very different though and depend on the support you need. Again you can have different colours and patterns on the aluminium ones.

  • Underarm or axillary crutch – Underarm or axilla crutches are used by putting the pad beneath the armpit and against the ribs and holding the grip. They are used to provide support for patients who have a temporary limitation on walking. Often with underarm crutches, some kind of soft pad is used to reduce armpit injury.
  • Forearm or elbow crutch – A forearm or elbow crutch (also commonly has a cuff at the top which goes around the forearm. This cuff is usually made of plastic or metal and can be half or full circle. You use it by inserting the arm into the cuff and hold onto the grip.
  • Forearm crutches are the most common type used in Europe, whether it is for the long or short term. In other parts of the world, forearm crutches are more likely to be used by people with long-term disabilities, and axillary crutches more often used for short-term disabilities.
  • Platform – These are not as common and used by people with reduced hand grip due to cerebral palsy, arthritis, or other conditions. The arm is strapped on a level platform, and the hand rests on a grip which, can be angled to a comfortable position for the person using it.
  • Leg support – These unusual crutches are for people with an injury or disability affecting one lower leg only. The affected leg is strapped into a frame that holds the lower part of the leg off the ground while transferring the load from the ground to the user’s knee or thigh. This style of crutch has the advantage of not using the hands or arms while walking. A possible benefit is that upper thigh weakening is reduced due to the affected leg remaining in use. These crutch designs are unusable if you have a thigh, pelvic or hip injury and you should check with your physiotherapist before purchasing if you have a knee injury.

Conclusion

Buying a walking stick or crutch, especially your first walking stick or crutch, can be a confusing, and sometimes intimidating process. Many people do not want their first walking aid as they do not want to look disabled, even though they are. A walking stick or crutch is only a disability walking aid and will most likely slow down the progression of most injuries and help cure many, so you don’t have to fear buying one. It is to get you from ‘A’ to ‘B’ like a car, only buying a new walking aid is much cheaper but a lot less exciting.