The 10 Best Walkers
This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Being physically impaired doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to get around when you need to. If you or someone you know has temporary or permanent difficulty with mobility, try one of these walkers. They're ideal for providing independence to the elderly, infirm, or those recovering from an injury. The right rollator can significantly improve your quality of life. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best walker on Amazon.
The Right Walker For Chronic Support
Other walkers feature wider fabric bands as backrests which can distribute pressure across their user's lower torso, leading to greater comfort.
Consider things such as the angle of the walker's grips and the ease of use of its brakes.
If you are looking for a walker that you or a loved one will use for an indefinite period of time (and that will potentially serve as a permanent part of life), it is heartening to know that even top of the line walkers are priced well in range for most budgets. You can expect to pay a little over $300 for one of the more expensive walkers available, and you can expect a unit in this price range to come stocked with accessories.
The accessories many customers look for in a walker include things like a built in basket for carrying items while the hands are engaged, a padded seat with a back rest, and easily accessed hand brakes.
Putting budget aside, when choosing a walker for long term use, the most important factor should be the unit's ergonomics. A walker is going to serve as an extension of its user's body, so the device's design is of paramount importance. Consider things such as the angle of the walker's grips and the ease of use of its brakes. Some walkers are specially designed with brakes requiring minimal pressure, for example, which is essential for people with grip strength reduced by injury, nerve issues, or arthritis.
A walker's seat too must be comfortable for a given user, as a walker can provide essential respite when used as a seat. Some walkers have padded bars as their backrests, which might actually be uncomfortable for users with spinal or lumbar issues. Other walkers feature wider fabric bands as backrests which can distribute pressure across their user's lower torso, leading to greater comfort.
Some walker's feature open baskets which make it easy to toss in and/or retrieve the mail, a newspaper, and some groceries. These are perfect for people who use their walkers primarily indoors or for shorter outdoor strolls. Other walkers feature compartments that can be fully sealed using zippers or the unit's own seat. If you spend more time outdoors or use your walker during travels or a commute, you'll appreciate a storage area that can closed securely.
The Relatively Recent Development Of The Walker
Humans have been afflicted with mobility issues since our ancient ancestors first achieved bipedal locomotion. But it was not until the 1950s that a device allowing a user with limited mobility to remain upright, safe, and supported would finally be developed. The first unit approximating modern walkers was patented by William Cribbes Robb in the year 1953.
Atop each frame sat a handle, and each frame and handle were connected and stabilized by two bars.
This early walker consisted of four tubes arranged into two pairs of A-shaped frames. Atop each frame sat a handle, and each frame and handle were connected and stabilized by two bars. The walker ensured its user's stability, but was not all that easy to actually move forward.
Walkers featuring two wheels were developed later in the 1950s, and these made forward motion easier while remaining stable when at rest. In the 1970s, the first four wheeled walkers were released. Often called Rollators, these walkers were very easy to move across most hard surfaces, and were made safe and stable thanks to the addition of hand controlled brakes. Many soon featured baskets, seats, and other conveniences.
The Leading Causes Of Mobility Issues
It's too great a simplification to say that most mobility issues are caused by age. A more accurate statement would be that mobility is often impaired due to age-related conditions, but even this statement disregards many factors and casts too wide a net. This is true because, often enough, age is effectively just a number. It is the manner in which a person spent the years leading up to their current age that actually counts.
Thus choices we make today can have a dramatic effect on our mobility later in life.
In a savage irony, the more physically active a person is during their younger years, the more they may suffer from mobility issues that necessitate the aid of a cane or walker later in life. An extreme example of this would be the professional athlete who sees his or her body repeatedly damaged through acute injuries or else compromised by the repetitive stresses put on their joints and bones by the years of intense practice and play.
On the other hand, a life spent in a largely sedentary pattern can also lead to extreme mobility issues later in life as musculature needed to support the body spends years in an atrophic state. A sedentary lifestyle can also have an effect on mobility at any age, though, especially when other factors, such as obesity or disease are involved. There is a hackneyed but not inaccurate colloquialism to be heeded: one must "use it or lose it" when it comes to mobility and health.
Mobility issues not related to age or lifestyle usually come in the form of injury or illness. Damage to a knee or ankle can dramatically limit a person's ability to walk and can require protracted time to heal, as of course can any broken bone in the hip, leg, or foot. So too can less obvious issues require mobility assistance, such as nerve related conditions including fibromyalgia or ataxia. These are all issues which can affect people of almost any age equally.
While many health conditions affect the elderly in ways they may not restrict younger people, later life mobility issues are often caused by conditions present throughout a person's lifetime. Thus choices we make today can have a dramatic effect on our mobility later in life.
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