The need for an ambulatory assistive device may become necessary as we age or experience injuries that impact our mobility. These devices are often used to help individuals with decreased balance, pain, weakness, fatigue, or joint instability. They also take the weight off a lower extremity that has undergone a surgery. Despite the many benefits of using an assistive device for mobility, some people do not get the full benefit of the device because they are unsure about how to use it properly.
In fact, it is not uncommon for a person to have received little or no information after injury or surgery about how to use their assistive device. In order to help people learn more about using assistive devices, periodically, Rehab First will take a look at various ones. This blog will discuss the basics of how to use a walker properly and get the most from this device.
Types of walkers
The two main types of walkers can come with or without wheels. The wheeled walkers can have two or four wheels. One of the primary differences in using a walker with wheels instead of a standard non-wheeled walker is that wheeled walkers allow for a more normal gait pattern. A person is able to walk with a continuous stepping pattern versus stopping to advance a standard walker after every couple of steps.
Walkers can also be customized for the person’s needs with the addition of benches or hanging baskets to carry items. A bench or seating on a walker can be a beneficial addition if the user is a person easily fatigued or who may need rest breaks for long distance walking. Whatever additions are chosen, the most important factor is that the added feature should not hinder the person’s ability to easily walk with the device.
How to use a walker
A walker is used to enhance stability when walking so it’s important to ensure that it is properly adjusted to the right height. A tip for measuring appropriate height is to stand inside of the walker with your arms hanging at your side. The handles of the walker should be about the level of your wrists.
When walking with the walker, be careful to not extend your toes beyond the front bars of the walker. Walking too close to the front bars of the walker can put you in danger of the walker tipping backward. When being mobile, a walker should be held by the handle grips located on each side with both hands at all times. Do not carry anything in one hand while maneuvering a walker. Also, avoid resting your forearms on the handle of the walker. If you own a pet, it is not recommended to walk pets while using a walker.
Stand up straight when walking and try not to put excessive weight on your arms. To maintain balance, it is important to put most of your body weight through your legs when walking. When sitting, never pull up on the walker to stand. Always push up from the seat you are sitting on to stand then use the walker for balance and walking.
Get some help
Re-learning how to be mobile with an assistive device can take some time and patience. Following an injury or surgery, a physical therapist, like those at Rehab First, can work with you to ensure the proper fit, use, and safety of your walker. For more information, go to www.rehab-first.com