The following overview will provide essential information about frames and what you need to keep in mind when choosing a frame. Therapists and dealers will also be able to give you guidance and allow you to try the different types as part of your decision making process.
The following explains the different pros & cons with each type of walker
Tri Walkers – This type of walker has a swiveling front wheel and two fixed rear wheels, one on each corner. The frame has handle bars; the user only needs to push the frame to walk. As this frame is completely wheeled, there is no need to lift it. These frames are easily folded and narrower than other types of walkers. A carry bag is easily accessible and the height adjustable handles make it suitable for a range of heights.
Four Wheeled Walkers – The two front wheels swivel to enable the frame to turn, while the rear two are fixed for stability. This frame has a seat incorporated which can very useful if the user needs to rest, there is also a storage bag under the seat so personal items can easily be carried. It can be used both indoors and outdoors. Four wheeled walkers are wider than tri walkers and are less maneuverable; however they provide more stability and are less likely to tip over.
Petite Walker - This is a smaller version of the four wheeled walker and is ideal for smaller clients. This type of frame has a seat which is lower than other models; this allows more stability for small clients who would like to have a seat and rest.
Bariatric Walker – This is a type of four wheeled walker, complete with seat and backrest. Bariatric walkers are a good option for larger clients who require support while walking. It can hold up to 225 kg.
Gutter Frame Walker – This is a type of walker that has forearm supports; these can assist clients who have less upper body/hand strength. This walker has a seat, basket, and four wheels. This walker works wells in a variety of environments both at home and in the community.
Wheel size: 6 inch castors work well for smaller users who are 5’2” or shorter. This size is ideal for indoor use. 8 inch castors are a good option for people who are using the walker both indoors and outdoors and are generally more active.
Folding: A folding walking frame means that it will easily fit into a small car and can be stored in a small space.
Seat: A seat on a walker can allow the user to stop and take a rest when needed. The seats are located between the handle bars and are hinged so they can be lifted to access the storage bag underneath.
Braking System: Walking frames are engineered with different types of braking systems. The most common type is a hand brake which works by squeezing the brake handles. Relatively good hand mobility is needed for this function to work, however; it is possible to use pressure through the palm to apply the brake.
Product Weight: The weight of the walker can vary significantly. Most walkers are constructed of aluminium; however walkers that are able to support a heavier user are often made of steel. Generally aluminium walkers (like the three and four wheeled models) weigh between 5 – 7 kg, and the heavy duty models range on average between 10 – 12 kg.
Walkers have height adjustable handles; these can be set up to be the most comfortable height. The Petite Walker suits shorter people with heights under 5’2”, whereas standard walkers work well for people from 5’3” upwards.