A walker may be helpful to you if you are frail, weak, have an injury or loss of feeling in your legs, or have poor balance and fall easily.
There are many types of walkers, for different purposes and ability levels. Common types are the standard walker, the front-wheeled walker and the four-wheeled walker. Wheels can be placed on the front of walkers to make walking easier. Four-wheel walkers with heavy metal frames are easily moved forward. These walkers may also have padded seat cushions and backrests.
Q. How can I use the walker safely at home?
A. Wear shoes with rubber soles and take small steps. Remove throw rugs and keep walking areas well lit. Do not stand up too fast or walk when you feel lightheaded.
Q. When does a walker need wheels?
A. If you have weak arms, you may not be able to lift a walker. Front wheels help when you are pushing or rolling the walker forward.
Q. How do I know if the walker is the right size?
A. A walker that is too high or too low can cause shoulder and back pain and you can lose your balance. A doctor or physical therapist can help you with proper fit and show you how to walk safely.
Contact your doctor if at any time you:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
The Arthritis Society
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Choosing the right cane or walker. Health in Aging- American Geriatrics Society website. Available at: https://www.healthinaging.org/tools-and-tips/choosing-right-cane-or-walker Updated June 2019. Accessed March 6, 2020.
Gell NM, Wallace RB, et al. Mobility device use in older adults and incidence of falls and worry about falling. Findings from the 2011-2012 National Health and Aging Trends Study. J Amer Geriatr Soc. 2015:63(5):853-859.
How to use crutches, canes, and walkers. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00181. Updated February 2015. Accessed March 6, 2020.
Prevent falls and fractures. National Institute on Aging website. Available at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/prevent-falls-and-fractures. Published March 15, 2017. Accessed March 6, 2020.
Walkers: fitting and patient education about walker use. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at:https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Updated December 1, 2017. Accessed March 6, 2020.
Last reviewed November 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS Last Updated: 3/6/2020