Taking the user’s hand strength and mental ability into consideration is very important when choosing a seat walker. A walker with wheels, seat and brakes is excellent, but if the user does not have the strength and presence of mind to use it safely it could be dangerous.
Consulting a Physical Therapist
It is best to consult a physical therapist before buying a walker. A physical therapist can teach how to use it safely and also regulate the walker’s size to suit your needs. This is important when a walker is needed due to an injury. If you are unable to consult a physical therapist it is recommended to adjust the level of the walker’s handles with the crease of your wrist. This could be identified by standing with your arms hanging straight at your side.
Check doorway size
Some walkers may not fit through doors. Check especially the width of the home bathroom entrance as most doors are only 24 inches wide.
It is important to check whether the handlebars and seat are adjustable to fit your body. Ensure the width of the seat and frame are wide enough for the user and also maximum weight capacity. When sitting the feet should be flat on the floor.
Warranty and Availability of Parts
Using a walker with damaged, worn out parts or not adhering to manufacturer’s instructions on the use of specific parts can be dangerous and bring about a risk of injury. Therefore, if a walker is used often, some parts may have to be replaced from time to time especially the wheels. Warranty of the product may differ according to the brand. Customer service and availability of parts may also vary accordingly.
Safety and Ease of Folding
In order to ensure the user is comfortable with the process of folding and unfolding, practising the procedure whenever possible is recommended. The trigger style release on a folding frame could accidentally grip the release instead of the walker handle resulting in the collapsing of the walker. It is also advisable to have a clip or strap wrapped around the walker to avoid unfolding once it’s closed up.
Wheels and glides
Tires that are too rough might slip, therefore, soft tires are safer although these waste faster. Small wheels of 3 to 5 inches in diameter are ideal for indoor use and larger wheels of 6 to 8 inches are better for outdoor use. It is recommended to read reviews or test before purchasing to ensure the wheels doesn’t scratch the floor when gliding.
Knowing the difference
A walker is not a wheelchair and sometimes users get tempted to use it as a wheelchair or roll around the room while seated. It is best to keep in mind that rollators are not designed to cope with such use. Improper usage of the walker can make the wheels, seat or frame give way and cause a breakdown.
Checking all parts of the walker for tear and wear at least weekly is vital for your safety. Always ensure to repair before using. If a user is unable at least someone else should examine the frame, joint, brakes and even lean on the seat hard and check if it is not cracking under stress.