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A walker can help patients move around and be more independent in their daily lives. It is important to know how to safely walk, sit, stand, turn, and go up and down steps. Using a walker can take practice. Each type of walker can be a little different. Patients may also have certain instructions or limits given by their doctor or physical therapist.
To walk with a walker, hold the handgrips, and move the walker forward a short distance. This is usually about 6-12 inches or the distance of a step or arm’s length. Using the walker for support, take a step to the middle area of the walker. If you have a weak or injured leg, step with that leg first. Then, step forward with the other leg.
Some patients use a walker to help with balance or weakness. Other patients use a walker because of an injury or medical condition affecting one side of the body.
If you have an injury, your doctor or physical therapist will tell you how much weight you should put on the leg. This can range from non-weight bearing (no weight on the leg) to full weight bearing (full and equal weight placed on both legs). You may be told that you can put a certain percent of your weight on your leg. As you heal and get stronger, the amount of weight allowed will increase.
To sit down while using a walker, back up to the chair, toilet, or sitting surface using the walker. Reach back for the sitting surface with both hands before sitting down. You might need to reach back one hand at a time. Sit down slowly, and use your arms for support.
To stand up from a sitting position, move your body forward to the front of the seat. Push up from the sitting surface with both hands as you stand. Then place hands on the walker. Do not pull on the walker to help you stand.
To step up onto a step or curb, move close to the step. Place the walker up on the step. Using the walker for support, step up with your good leg first. Then, step up with your other leg.
To step down, move close to the edge of the step. Place the walker on the ground. Using the walker for support, step down with the weak or injured leg. Then, step down with your good leg.
Patients should work with a physical therapist before going up or down stairs with a walker. This is important for safety. Some patients may be told not to use a walker on stairs. Always follow the instructions given by your care team.
Reviewed: September 2019