Walking with a Walker
Walkers are similar to canes in that they are best used for partial off-loading of weight from the affected lower extremity joint (ex. hip, knee, ankle) rather than full off-loading (crutches are better suited for this). Although walkers are bulkier than canes, one significant advantage over a cane is that they offer both forward support as well as support to the left and right of the individual.
In order to optimize the use of a walker, it is important to adjust it to the correct height. Walkers have 4 legs, each of which should be adjusted to the same height as each other, as well as to a height that ensures the handgrips on the top of the walker are as high as your wrists when standing upright. The walker should also contain the width of one’s body, surrounding the body on 3 sides. Different sizes of walkers are available in order to achieve this position.
Walking with a walker simply involves lifting it up and placing it down ahead of you with each step. If the walker has wheels on its front legs (front-wheel walker), it can be pushed forward without lifting as you walk.
More so than other assistive devices, walkers pose a challenge when climbing stairs. It is possible however, to climb stairs with a walker if the walker is foldable and the stairs have a hand rail. If this is the case, the hand rail can be used on one side while the folded walker is used on the other. A more reasonable strategy if stairs are present in the house is to have 2 walkers, one upstairs and one downstairs.
Keywords: Walker, front-wheel walker, front leg walker