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Welcome to UK Wheelchairs - the home of value and quality

How to choose a walking frame

We have created this guide to help you to choose the most suitable type of walking frame for your needs so that you are able to retain maximum personal mobility and independence. Please note that this guide is general help and that everyone’s needs differ and that you should consider getting further assistance form your GP, occupational therapist or other care professional.

How does a walking frame help ?

A walking frame is a mobility device that provides additional support when walking. Walking frames are ideal solutions for someone who is able to walk unassisted but needs some support when walking. They are ideal for those who get tired easily when walking or have problems with weak joints or muscular issue that restrict flexibility. For many, a walking frame is a source of reassurance that allows greater mobility around the home or when outside.

Different types of walking frame

Most walking frames have four legs and have easy grip handles. On the end of the legs there are different types of feet including wheels (wheeled walkers), rubber feet or glide skis. The type of feet varies to suit the various abilities of users but all walking frames will aid the mobility of the user.

Walking frames are generally made with aluminium frames to help to minimise the weight of the walker. Some models will fold which makes them easier to store when not in use.

Standard walking frame

This classic type of walker has four feet and is designed for use inside or elsewhere where the surface is smooth and uninterrupted. This type of walker allows a slow pace as the frame needs to be lifted forward as each step is taken. They do however provide a useful form of support when stationary.

2 Wheeled walking frames

As their name suggests, wheeled walkers use small wheels on the front legs of the frame to allow you to progress when walking without having to stop after each step to reposition the frame. Intended for indoor use these two wheeled walkers are ideal for those who require support while walking but are not suited to those who are prone to balance problems or falls.

When selecting a wheeled walker it is important to select one that has adjustable height which allows you to obtain a comfortable position when walking. It is worth also considering the width of the frame as some narrow walkers may not provide the amount of support needed. It is important that the handles are spaced conveniently so that you feel comfortable and not stretched in any way.

The handles on most walking frames are on the sides of the top of the frame and the handles are ergonomic so that they are comfy to use. It is important that a good grip can be made without having to squeeze too hard. For this reason easy grip materials are used which remain effective when hands are wet which can occur when used outside.

Whether you choose a two wheeled walker or a classic walker without wheels, it is important that the feet without wheels have good quality rubber ferrules that provide grip when in contact with the ground. Rubber ferrules do wear out over time but can be easily replaced so should be inspected regularly to make sure they are not worn out.

3 wheeled walkers or tri walkers

Tri walkers are generally wider than two wheeled models. Because they are wider they provide greater support and are less likely to tip. Tri walkers can be used both inside and outside and often come with some form of onboard storage that allows you to take some small belongings with you. This can be in the form of a bag or a net. If you intend to use the 3 wheeled walker outside then a bag might be preferable to keep your essentials dry should it rain.

Tri walkers come with brakes that work on the rear wheels. This allows the user to stabilise the tri walker should they want to stop or rest. Turning with a tri walker is easy and small tight turns can be made with ease which makes them ideal for use in the home where space is restricted. The front wheel pivots which allows tight turns while the rear wheels simply follow the front steering wheel.

4 wheeled walkers or rollators

For some users a four wheeled walking frame or rollator is the best solution. Rollators are typically the widest form of wheeled walker which makes them ideal for use outside and short trips to the shops etc. These are generally better suited to users who have relatively good mobility but who need some assistance for support or when they need frequent stops due to limited movement or breathlessness. For this reason, rollators require more upper body strength than other types of wheeled walker.

Rollators generally come with a seat that allows you to take a break when needed. For this reason brakes are essential on rollators as they allow you to slow and stop the rollator and allow more control when moving. When you do sit down the brakes can be locked making the rollator very stable and unlikely to move if you are on level ground which is essential.

In addition to a seat, rollators will often have some form of under seat storage which allows you to transport your daily essentials such as newspaper, telephone of shopping with ease. For this reason the rollator is the best option if you are likely to use any form of public transport as they have a durable frame that can provide support on bumpy trains or buses. Rollators do require more space so please consider this as most models require more space than a tri walker which can be folded to reduce the space needed.

Conclusion

You are the best judge of your abilities and your daily routine so are in the best position to decide which wheeled walking aid will suit you best. Ideally a trip to a mobility centre such as ours will allow you to try all types and make a decision based on your experience.