While there is a variety of walker styles, three of them seem to be the most popular. There is the standard walker that has four rubber-tipped legs. Then you have the two-wheeled walker, which is similar to the standard walker, but it has two wheels on the front. Finally, a style that is coming into more frequent use is the four-wheeled walker.
The standard walker is what many people imagine when they think of a mobility aid. When someone has a health crisis and needs maximum stability, the standard walker is what is usually issued by a hospital or rehab facility.
Standard walkers have four rubber-tipped legs and rounded handles. The handles are usually covered in a foam or rubber grip. Because standard walkers have no wheels, they must be picked completely up and then placed back down to move. This may seem more labor intensive, but it does allow the user to receive constant weight-bearing assistance without fearing the walker is going to roll away from them.
Most standard walkers are height adjustable, and many are foldable. Aluminum is the material of choice because it is sturdy, lightweight, and affordable. Standard walkers are slim, to allow the user to fit through doorways easily. If you over 300lbs and need something more substantial, you can find standard walkers in bariatric sizes.
The two-wheeled walker comes in a couple of different styles. Sometimes they look like standard walkers with two wheels on the front. Other models look like four-wheeled, folding-seat walkers with the back wheels missing.
Either way, two-wheeled walkers will have two rubber tipped feet and two wheels. The two-wheeled walker provides less stability than the standard walker but makes it easier to be on the go. The wheels make it unnecessary to pick up the entire walker every time you take a step. They are the best choice for someone who needs some weight-bearing assistance but doesn’t require it all the time.
Depending on the style, two-wheeled walkers will fold in the same manner their standard or four-wheeled counterparts do. Height adjustment and handle type would also be the same. Flip-up seats are usually available for two-wheeled walkers made in the style of four-wheeled walkers. Standard two-wheel walkers can’t accommodate this in their design. Two-wheeled walkers may be made of aluminum or steel.
The four-wheeled walker has become a very popular choice, most likely because it bridges the gap for people who would be given more freedom by using a mobility aid, but they don’t quite need the support of a standard walker.
Four-wheeled walkers have two wheels in the front and two wheels in the back. They come in several different styles and almost always include features such as flip-up seats, back rests, and even pouches or baskets for personal items. Four-wheeled walkers are not for people who need to lean on their walker for maximum assistance. They provide a bit of balance for those who have an altered gait or may be more at risk of stumbling and falling. They also allow people who become easily fatigued to go out in the community, knowing they have something at hand that allows them to rest whenever need be.
Four-wheeled walkers usually have an adjustable handle height and sometimes have an adjustable seat height. Because the handles are not meant to lean on, like a standard walker, they tend to be less padded and more rubbery, like a bike handle. The handles also usually have hand-brakes attached. Their material may be aluminum or steel.
What Type Of Walker Should I Get?
First, you should talk to your doctor or physical therapist. Depending on the level of support you need, some styles may not be a good fit for you. Beyond that, you should consider things like:
- Where will I be using this walker? Inside, outside, or both?
- How important is the weight? Will I have to lift or store the walker independently?
- Do I want accessories, such as bags or baskets?
- Will the walker need to fold? If so, do I need easy-fold buttons?
- Do I have a contact allergy to any type of metal or material I will need to avoid?
One of these three types of popular walkers will most likely fit all of your criteria. And if you have any questions about styles, features, or brands, Independent Living Aids is always happy to help!