Walking aids, such as rollators, can significantly enhance mobility and independence for individuals with limited mobility or those recovering from an injury. Yet, with a wide range of options for individuals with limited mobility, deciding which walking aid aligns with your needs, comfort, and personal style can be challenging and significantly impact your daily life.
To help you make this choice, we created this comprehensive guide, to explore the different types of walking aids and provide valuable insights on choosing the perfect one to suit your needs, ensure optimal comfort, and reflect your personal style. From assessing your needs to understanding the different types – keep reading to discover your ideal walking aid.
Understanding Walking Aids
Nowadays, just over 6.8 million Americans use mobility aids to help them daily. While the most popularly known is the wheelchair, unbeknownst to many, walking aids come in all different shapes and sizes depending on their user.
From walking sticks and rollators to wheelchairs and walkers, there are hundreds of assistive devices that those with limited mobility can choose between. Therefore, it is essential to understand each before making your decision.
There are several types of walking aids that can assist individuals with mobility issues. Some common types include:
- Canes provide support and stability for individuals with mild balance issues or weakness in one leg. They can be adjustable, folding, or quad canes with additional legs for enhanced stability.
- Crutches are used by individuals who have temporary or long-term difficulties in walking. They require upper body strength and are available in different types such as axillary (underarm) crutches or forearm (Lofstrand) crutches.
- Walkers are four-legged walking frames with handles that provide support and stability. They are suitable for individuals with balance issues or weakness in both legs. Walkers can be basic or have wheels, seats, and handbrakes for added convenience.
- Rollators are similar to walkers but equipped with wheels, handbrakes, and often a seat. They offer improved mobility and stability and are suitable for individuals who need occasional rest breaks.
- Wheelchairs are mobility aids for individuals with significant mobility impairments, either temporary or permanent. They can be self-propelled (manual) or powered (electric), providing increased independence and mobility.
- Mobility scooters are electric-powered vehicles designed for individuals with mobility limitations. They are suitable for outdoor use and have a seat, handlebars, and wheels.
It is important to consult with a healthcare professional or physical therapist to determine which walking aid is most appropriate based on individual needs and abilities.
Rollators are popular walking aids that offer stability, support, and added features to enhance the user’s mobility experience. They typically consist of a lightweight frame, handlebars for gripping, wheels for manoeuvrability, and a built-in seat for resting.
On the other hand, wheelchairs are helpful for those that have extremely limited mobility or are rehabilitating from serious leg injuries. Like rollators, they can include additional accessories, such as storage areas, handlebars, robust wheels, and many others, to make usability easier.
But with far more mobility devices than rollators and wheelchairs on the market, it is up to you to conduct thorough research into the different types of walking aids on the market to ensure that you make the best choice!
Assessing Your Needs
Before selecting a rollator or any walking aid, it’s essential to assess your specific needs. Consider factors such as your level of mobility, the terrain you’ll encounter, and any additional features you may require. For example, a rollator with larger wheels and a comfortable seat can be beneficial if you have difficulty walking long distances.
Reflecting Your Style
From helping you get around your home to assisting you when you’re out of the house, your walking aid will never stray far from your side, so why not inject a little of your personality into it? While off-the-rack walking aids often leave much to be desired when it comes to personalization, there are hundreds of ways to make your rollator, wheelchair, walking stick, etc., reflect your style without impacting its functionality.
Many rollators now come in various colours and designs like the ones from Rollz Mobility, allowing you to express your individuality and build upon its foundations with additional accessories like stickers, decals, decorative tape, wheelchair covers, and more. Whether you prefer a sleek and modern look or a vibrant and playful design, options are available to match your style preference and even interests, such as gaming, animation, sports, and much more.
Comfort is critical when choosing a walking aid; you’ll use it daily, so your comfort is paramount. Thankfully, many mobility aids are designed with the user’s comfort in mind and are equipped with various accessories such as padded handlebars, adjustable seat height, and ergonomic grips, which can increase comfort levels.
However, before selecting your comfort features, you must consider your weight and size to ensure the rollator suits and supports your body type; otherwise, you may find it ill-equipped for your needs and a waste of money.
Also, consider other factors, like whether your primary usage for it will be walking or as a means of support during breaks. If you are using it for walking and resting, you should choose a rollator with a wide seat and ample padding for comfortable resting. In contrast, if you are using it to get around, you might be better off without all the added weight of a seat and opt for a storage area instead.
Manoeuvrability And Stability
One of the essential aspects of a rollator is its manoeuvrability and stability. Opt for a rollator with swivel wheels allowing easy turns and smooth navigation through tight spaces. The wheels should also be durable and designed for various terrains, providing stability and reducing the risk of slips or falls. Adjustable handlebar height is crucial to ensure proper posture and comfortable grip.
Rollators often come with additional features to enhance convenience and functionality. Look for features such as storage compartments or baskets for carrying personal items, walking stick holders, or even built-in brakes for added safety.
For instance, if you’re only going to use your rollator for help getting around the house, you won’t need a fancy model with loads of additional accessories. In contrast, if your primary use for it will be walking outside, you might want to consider one with built-in storage solutions or broader tires that will make the transition from different terrains smoother.
Factor in your needs and lifestyle choices when deciding which additional features would be most beneficial to you, and decide based on your findings to ensure that you purchase the most appropriate walking aid for your comfort, needs, and personal style.
Seeking Professional Advice
If you need help determining which rollator would best suit your needs, it’s always a good idea to seek advice from a healthcare professional or a mobility specialist. They can assess your mobility requirements, provide recommendations based on your specific circumstances, and ensure you select the most appropriate rollator for your needs.
Additionally, if you’re close to anyone with similar mobility issues, you could consider contacting them and asking them what kinds of mobility aids they use, how they made their decision, which ones they recommend, and any other questions you might have, or posting anonymously on internet forums (because there’s one on everything – trust us!)