Choosing the Best-Fit Walker for You
Height, Width, Wheels, & Weight
A rolling walker is a common tool used to help people remain mobile and safe. They can be seen in use everywhere. What you want is a Best-Fit Walker. There are many reasons for a person to need a walker in the first place. There could be issues with bone health like a fracture, or a hip replacement or arthritis. Perhaps there is a respiratory or fatigue problem.
Whatever the need, understand that it’s not just the type of walker that needs an appraisal. The user’s abilities and where it will be used must first be evaluated to determine what goals need to be met. That requires the help of an occupational therapist. Ask your doctor for a referral.
After the user’s needs have been determined you’re ready to shop for your best-fit walker.
You’ll soon find that they come in all sizes and colors with all kinds of accessories and adjustments and wheels and weight limits. So let’s narrow this down a bit. With the use of a tape measure and some height and weight guidelines, we can help guide you through the maze.
- The height of the handles is important for balance an support. Too low and the user will lean forward (bad for balance). Too high and the user’s arms will be at the wrong angle (bad for support).
- To determine the height of handles, have the user stand as straight as possible with their arms down loose at their side. Grab your tape measure and measure from the floor to the crease in the wrist, just above the hand. That measurement is the optimum height for the handles of your walker.
- The height of the seat is the next step. With the user standing, measure from the floor to the bend behind the knee. That is the optimum height for the seat.
Write down both measurements.
- The wheels on the walker can affect the ease of use on different terrains. It depends on where the user will most often use the walker. Most rolling walkers come with wheel sizes from 6 to 8 inches, although you may find some that are 4 or 5 inches. The weight limit of the walker can also affect the wheel size.
- If the user will be using the walker indoors most of the time, smaller wheels will suffice. Smaller wheels can fit in tighter spaces for better maneuvering.
- For outdoor use (off the pavement and in the yard) the larger 8” wheel will be much easier to use, especially if you have a gravel driveway like I do. Many walkers will be listed as “good for outdoor use.” Larger wheels are perfectly acceptable for indoor use if tight spaces are not an issue.
- Weight of the user is an important consideration as well. Walkers that accommodate 250 to 300 lbs. are plentiful. There are bariatric models rated for 400 to 600 lbs. and more. Those with greater weight limits are usually are more expensive. All walkers will have the weight capacity listed in the product specifications.
When you shop, you’ll find that many best-fit walkers are quite adjustable, like the Lumex RJ4700. Others will have different models for different sizes. Hand brakes are necessary and are provided on all rolling walkers. There are many accessories available, like bags, baskets, cup holders, food trays and even lights.
Persons in need of a walker have many different challenges to face in the course of normal day. Taking the time to determine the best-fit walker will give you peace of mind. A walker is a great help in providing the user the independence that we all want.