Whether it be temporary difficulty in moving about due to an accident or a recent trauma, or a progressive problem caused by increasing fatigue, joint pain, and balance problems, mobility is a significant issue we all want to address.
Walkers are one of the most common walking assistive devices around, only running second to canes, according to a study1.
Maybe you are considering purchasing one for yourself or your loved one and found out that there are various types of walkers and need help in decision-making. You’ve come to the right place!
This article will discuss what a walker is, its parts, and its typical features. This article will also tell you the different types of walkers and how much they cost.
What is a Walker?
A walker is a type of assistive device or mobility aid used by people who can still walk but need additional support and stability. It is a four-legged frame typically made of lightweight material (typically aluminum).
Features of Walkers
Some walkers are collapsible for ease of transport. There is usually a button at the front part of the walker. Once it is pressed, the walker can be collapsed and folded flat.
Most walkers can be adjusted to suit the user’s height. Each leg has linearly placed holes with a button. To adjust the height, find the button on each leg, press it, and fit it to the appropriate hole. Wait until you hear a “click” to ensure that the button is in place. Make sure to do place the button on the same hole height for all four legs.
Some walkers have two handles: one in its usual position and another positioned lower as the walker curves towards the user’s end. This provides users the leverage to stand up when they are seated on a chair or a bed.
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Parts of a Walker
Most walkers are made of 1-inch aluminum tubing. The legs can be adjusted by 5 to 10 inches. Some frames are made up of heavy-duty material to handle heavier individuals.
Grip or Handle
Located on either side of the walker, handles are usually made of foam, gel, or plastic. These can be replaced to better suit the needs of the user. For example, those with limited grip due to joint problems or pain may opt to get larger grips. Foams may be advisable for users with the tendency to sweat to ensure that their grips won’t slip.
Some types of walkers have wheels, also called casters. However, unlike caster wheels of wheelchairs, these are fixed and do not swivel. They are usually 3 to 5 inches. Wheels can vary in material and in size, depending on the needs of the user. Larger wheels are preferred for outdoors and terrain, than smaller ones.
Some brakes have cables inside the frame to ensure that they will not get caught on anything.
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Different Types of Walkers and How Much They Cost
Before making a purchase, it is crucial to be aware of the different types of walkers. There are mainly three types of walkers: standard walkers, two-wheel or front-wheel walkers, and rollators.
A standard walker is the most basic type of walker. It is most suited for people who have weakness in their lower extremities and those with stability problems. Standard walkers can support up to 300 pounds and cost around $30 to $100.
A standard walker requires more upper extremity strength than wheeled types. Since they don’t have wheels, users need to lift the entire walker with every step as they walk.
Unlike the standard walker, a front-wheel walker does not have to be picked up by the user to be moved. On the other hand, the user must put weight on the walker while moving for the walker to move. The friction caused by the back legs prevents the walker and the user from rolling forward. This type of walker is suitable for use on flat surfaces but not on rough terrain or surfaces.
This type is suited for individuals with weaker upper extremities and those who need help accelerating their pace. The price of two-wheeled walkers ranges from $50 to $160.
A rollator is much like a walker, although it looks quite different due to the add-ons that come with it, like baskets and seats. It can have three- or four- wheels. A Three-wheeled rollator looks like a tricycle and is lighter than its four-wheel counterpart. Since it is slightly more compact, it is also easier to maneuver than a four-wheeled rollator.
Rollators are bulkier and heavier than standard types due to the materials they are made of. Best suited for individuals who need to stop and rest every now and then, a rollator usually comes with a seat. Because of this feature, rollators are usually heavy-duty, making them a lot more expensive than standard walkers. It is important to mention that the weight capacity of a rollator varies per product/model.
A rollator is best suited for users who have good enough stability to control the device. While it is easy to propel, users with cognitive impairments and balance issues may roll forward. It is also not suited for individuals who do not have enough grip strength to control the brakes.
You can get a rollator for as low as $60, but its price could go up to $350, depending on factors such as brand, material and component quality, and guarantee.
By the way, we have a separate article on how to use a rolling walker properly. If interested, you should read our page.
Do Medicare and Medicaid cover walkers?
However, it should be established that these products are medically necessary to be used in the home for it to be covered by Medicare and Medicaid. They have to be prescribed by a doctor or a health provider enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid for this equipment to be covered. In addition, the supplier of the equipment must also be enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid.
If approved, you will only have to pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount. Depending on the equipment, you may be asked to rent, buy, or be given the option of whether to rent or buy the equipment.
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Other Frequently Asked Questions
Why Do Their Prices Vary So Much?
What is the Best Walker for the Elderly?
The most suitable type of walker for the elderly depends on the elderly adult’s needs, skills, capacities, and conditions. We discussed this in great detail in this article.
What is the Difference between a Rollator and a Walker?
A standard walker does not have wheels, while a rollator has three or four wheels.
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While the different types of walkers have similar parts and features, each type has its differences. Aside from the price difference, it is essential to consider that each walker is suitable for different kinds of people. These features have to be taken into consideration when thinking of the user’s safe and efficient mobility.