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Modern-day walker

A walker or walking frame is a tool for disabled or elderly people who need additional support to maintain balance or stability while walking. The British English common equivalent term for a walker is Zimmer frame - from Zimmer Holdings, a major manufacturer of such devices and joint replacement parts.

The modern walker was patented by Andrejs Muiza who immigrated to the United States (Nashville, TN) from Latvia following World War II. The basic design consists of a frame that is about waist high, approximately twelve inches deep and slightly wider than the user. Walkers are also available in other sizes such as Pediatric (for children: see baby walker) or Bariatric (for overweight or obese persons). Modern walkers are height adjustable and should be set at a height that is comfortable for the user, but will allow the user to maintain a slight bend in their arms. This bend is needed to allow for proper blood circulation through the arms as the walker is used. The front two legs of the walker may or may not have wheels attached depending on the strength and abilities of the person using it. It is also common to see caster wheels or glides on the back legs of a walker with wheels on the front.


The person walks with the frame surrounding their front and sides and their hands provide additional support by holding on to the top of the sides of the frame. Traditionally, a walker is picked up and placed a short distance ahead of the user. The user then walks to it and repeats the process. With the use of wheels and glides, the user may push the walker ahead as opposed to picking it up. This makes for easier use of the walker, as it does not require the user to use their arms to lift the walker. This is beneficial for those with little arm strength.

A walker is a good tool for those who are recuperating from leg or back injuries. It is also commonly used by persons having problems with walking or with mild balance problems.

Also related is a hemi-walker, a walker about half the size of a traditional walker which is intended for use by persons whose dexterity is limited or non-existent in one hand or arm. These walkers are more stable than a quad cane (a cane with four points that touch the ground, as opposed to one), but are not recommended as highly as a traditional walker for those who can use it.

Wheeled walkers

Rollator with hand brakes
A variant of the walker is the wheeled walker, also commonly called a rollator. It is a walking frame with wheels. Rollators are typically more sophisticated than conventional walkers with wheels. They are adjustable in height and are equipped with a seat and sometimes with a basket; with the use of modern materials, they are light-weight yet sturdier. Modern wheeled walkers may also provide a back against which a person can lean. A particularly important part of a rollator is hand brakes mounted on the top of the frame that can be lifted or pushed downward to stop the wheeled walker at once. The brakes can also be used in maneuvering the rollator; when turning, the user can brake on the side being turned towards in order to achieve a tighter turning radius.

Modern rollators with wheels at least seven inches in diameter - preferably eight inches - ensure better reliability. Also, to the advantage of safety, convenience, and durability of a wheeled walking aid and its parts, modern rollators use tubular seats, back seats and baskets with spacers and cushions, and rather than using simple hooks as in early models, are equipped with latches and release buttons.

"The Zimmers"

In May 2007, a group of elder people in the UKmarker formed a rock group to highlight the plight and difficulties associated with old age. They called themselves The Zimmers in recognition of this generic term.


See also

External links Resources from knowledgeable professionals that will help properly select and make the most of the walker, rolling walker or rollator that best meet a patient's needs.

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