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Tips on Safe Walker Use

In the last post of Rosemary’s Diary, Rosemary’s friend Georgia, is using a walker after her hip surgery to help prevent her from falling.  When assistive devices are needed for adults who have had surgery or generalized balance difficulties, there are a few things to keep in mind.  The Washington State Department of Health has published an information guide for adults over the age of 65.  This guide includes basic walker information and tips on choosing and using walkers.

  • Walkers are often made of lightweight aluminum and can support 50 percent of your weight.
  • Choosing the correct walker of the right height and style is important to prevent falls, and should be done by a physical therapist or physician.
  • A physical therapist can also assist with initial training for safe walker use.
  • Walkers are most commonly available with two wheels, four wheels, or without wheels.
  • Walkers may also have brakes, seats, specialized grips, and baskets.
  • Walkers often fold to fit in cars or busses

Tips to use a Walker Safely

  • Take small steps
  • Keep the walker close to your body
  • Wear nonskid slippers, socks, or shoes
  • Remove throw rugs and clutter from the floor
  • Keep your head up while walking to maximize your balance
  • Keep both hands on walker, if you need to carry items attach a basket to the walker
  • As you walk, move the walker ahead of you one footstep at a time and make sure walker is firmly balanced before you proceed

How to Get up from a Chair While Using a Walker

  1. Pull the walker in front of you and slide yourself to the front of the chair
  2. Make sure the walker is level
  3. Stand up slowly with both hands gripping the walker.
  4. When you stand up give yourself some time before you walk to make sure that you have good balance.
  5. Move the walker forward one step and walk towards it

How to Sit Down in a Chair While Using a Walker

  1. Use your walker to back up to the chair until your legs touch the back of the chair.
  2. If your chair has an armrest, use one hand to find the armrest of the chair while leaving one hand on the walker (This step varies based on chair).
  3. Slowly sit down
  4. Slide back into chair

There is no replacement for having professional assistance and training with medical equipment.  The above is a brief overview and is by no means complete.  For more information see your physician or physical therapist.



Comments (0) • Posted September 9, 2011

Author: Julie L., BS, BSN, RN
Julie has worked as a Registered Nurse in the emergency room, as a clinical nursing instructor, and as a director of clinical services in home care.

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