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A walker is a type of mobility aid that offers stability and support while walking. Walkers are more stable than crutches or canes. They have a wide base of support that gives stability front to back and side to side. Special pediatric walkers are also available for younger children. Walkers may come with or without wheels. Rollators are a type of wheeled walker.
Patients may need a walker for different reasons. Using a walker can:
A walker is safest and helps most when it fits well. A walker that is the wrong size can be hard to use, cause falls, or result in pain and soreness. It is important to have good posture when using a walker to prevent stress on the back or arms. A physical therapist can help adjust the height and width for proper fit. All 4 legs of the walker should be the same length.
To get the best fit, have the patient stand up straight. Check the height:
A physical therapist will evaluate the patient to identify the best style of walker. Each walker is unique to needs of the person. Walkers may have no wheels, 2 wheels, or 4 wheels. Different accessories, such as baskets, pouches, and seats, may be added to make it easier to do daily activities.
A standard walker has 4 straight legs and no wheels. The height and width are adjusted to fit the patient. To use a standard walker, pick up the walker and move it forward. It is important to make sure that all 4 legs are on the floor before taking a step. Gliders or caps can sometimes be added to the legs of the walker (glider walker). This can help the walking pattern to be more natural.
Wheels can be placed on the front of the walker to provide a smoother walking pattern or more natural gait. Wheels may also be used if patients are unable to lift and move the walker. Rolling walkers are designed with the support in front (anterior walker) or in back (posterior walker). A physical therapist can help decide which is best for the patient.
Does insurance cover walkers and rollators? Walkers, rollators, and gait trainers are often covered by insurance if there is a medical need. Families should work with their care team to choose the best walker for their child. In most cases, your doctor or physical therapist will need to prescribe the device and provide documentation of medical need. This is known as a Letter of Medical Necessity or Doctor’s Statement. Each insurance plan is different, so check with your insurance company to learn more.