A walker is a piece of medical equipment used by someone who has difficulty balancing or is at risk of falling while walking as a result of weakness, medical disability, injury or advanced age. In essence, a walker serves as additional support when walking.  Careway Wellness Center, in its retail store in Woburn, Massachusetts or online, carries a complete line of walkers to choose from, starting from a standard walker to more elaborate walkers with wheels, baskets and other accessories. There is no doubt, that the best selection of walkers will be found in stores that specializes in medical equipment. Keep in mind If a walker is to be used only occasionally for a brief illness, injury or only for convenience, it probably should be rented rather than purchased.  Careway Wellness Center also has an medical equipment rental department, which offers walkers for rental.  As a general rule, the professional sale’s associates at Careway Wellness Center suggest that if a walker is needed for more than one month, it should be purchased; however, if it is to be used for a period less than a month, it will be more economical to rent the walker.  Examples of short usage periods would be a brief rehabilitation period for an injury or for the purpose of attending a celebration; such as, a wedding or graduation. Once a walker is no longer needed, it becomes not only an environmental obstacle but also a home storage problem.

A walker is relatively easy to use.  It requires only a brief period of demonstration and practice before one is comfortable and secure using a walker. Please view the video below on how to use a walker.  A very basic description of a walker is; a “U” frame, usually of aluminum, that has four legs and a cross bar. Because a walker must be light in weight, aluminum is the preferred metal used for constructing walkers, and it is this very feature of “light weight” that allows a weak or disabled individual to maneuver a walker with ease and safety. When ambulating with a walker, the walker is moved or advanced by lifting it across the floor or outside terrain. Again, for your viewing, we have included a video that illustrates the proper way to use a walker. If you or a loved one are going to be using a walker, we highly recommend that you view the video.

People who require the use of a walker for a prolonged period usually outfit their walker with glides, skis and tennis balls to make maneuvering easier. Such items are sold as walker accessories and can also be purchased at Careway Wellness Center, in Woburn, Massachusetts, either at their retail location or their online shop.

In addition to standard walkers, Careway Wellness Center carries folding walkers, junior walkers, walkers with wheels, and knee walkers.

Consider the following when purchasing or renting a walker:

A walker is an excellent piece of medical equipment to assist people needing help to ambulate.  It also helps to prevent falls.  Statistics show that over 1.5 million older people are injured from a falling accident annually.  However, even walkers must be used with caution because they can play a part in causing a fall.  Figures available from the CDC for Injury Prevention show that each year about 47,000 people aged 65 and over have sustained injuries from falls while using a walker and other walking devices such as canes and crutches. Women, more than men, in their late seventies and eighties are at the greatest risk of tipping while using a walker, resulting in fractures, bruises, sprains and abrasions.

To lessen the chance of falling when using a walker, especially for people who are going to rely on a walker because of overall weakness or poor balance control, it is important to have a primary care physician recommend either a physical therapist or occupational therapist to train the person how to use a walker properly when ambulating.  At Careway Medical Supply, sale’s associates are trained and prepared to demonstrate the basic facts on how to use and properly adjust a walker before it is purchased or rented. Manufacturers are constantly working on making improvements on the design of walkers for the elderly to lower or prevent walker accidents.

Six safety tips on using a walker:

  1. Choose the right type of walker: If stability is a significant concern, a walker without wheels is a good choice.
  1. Selecting a grip: Most walkers come with plastic grips, but you can add foam or soft grip covers. If you have trouble grasping with your fingers from arthritis or other joint pains, a larger grip may relieve stress on joints.
  1. Fitting your walker: Adjust it so that it fits your arms comfortably to reduce stress on your shoulders and back. First, place your hands on the grips. Your elbows should bend at a comfortable angle. Second, relax your arms at your sides. The top of your walker should line up with the crease on the inside of your wrist.
  1. Taking your first step: If you need to place weight on the walker as you move, start by pushing the walker forward and keep your back upright.
  1. Don’t lean over the walker: Stay upright as you move. Always step into the walker, rather than walking behind it. Be careful not to push the walker too far in front of you or set the handles too high.
  1. Many people trip with their walker while they are carrying something. You can add trays to carry food and other items, a pouch or basket. Some walkers also have seats, so you can take a rest.

Walker accessories:

Careway carries a wide variety of accessories for walkers, which include baskets, cup holders, wheel attachments, walker totes, pouches, tennis walker balls, glides, walker trays, rubber leg tips, etc.  Accessories can make it easier to use your walker.  Trays can help you carry food, drinks and other items to a table. A pouch attached to the side can carry books or magazines. Some walkers can be fitted with seats. Be sure not to overload your walker.  If it’s a walker accessory, you’re looking for; you’re going to find it at Careway Wellness Center because we are walker specialists.

Maintain your walker:

Whatever walker you choose, make sure you maintain it. Worn-out or loose rubber feet caps or handle grips may increase your risk of falling while using a walker. For help selecting and maintaining a walker, consult with Careway Wellness Center.

Bariatric Walkers:

In addition to standard walkers there are Bariatric Walkers to support large individuals. Bariatric walkers have a wider and deeper frame.  They are designed to accommodate individuals up to 500 pounds.  Bariatric walkers are capable of supporting high weights because of the components that are used to construct the walker as well as special design features; such as, “U” braces and steel legs and side braces, which ensure security and stability to the walker.

Selecting a grip:

walker gripMost walkers come with plastic grips, but you have other choices as well. You might consider foam grips or soft grip covers, especially if your hands tend to get sweaty. Also, if you have trouble grasping with your fingers because of an arthritic condition or other joint pains or nerve problems in your fingers — you might prefer a larger grip. Choosing the correct grip will relieve unnecessary stress on your joints and help prevent joint deformities. Whichever grip you choose, be sure it’s secure so that it won’t slip while you’re using the walker.

An excellent presentation for how to use a walker has been published by the Mayo Clinic and it can prove to be extremely valuable for those who are caregivers to the elderly who have been prescribed a walker by their primary care physician or physical therapist. Click here to go to the Mayo Clinic presentation.

Some final words about walkers:

  • Choosing the right walker, having the walker adjusted properly for you, following safety precautions with every move you make, and keeping your path clear of throw rugs, cords, and clutter are all essential for safe walker use. Always be mindful of those things that assure safe walker use.
  • It’s also important that you only use a walker that has been chosen and adjusted for you. If you borrow a walker from a friend or family member, it isn’t sized or adjusted for you, so you risk injury.