A medical walker is a device which features a metal frame and solid base, with or without wheels, and a large sturdy handle at about waist level. It is used for patients who have trouble walking without assistance. These patients hold on to the handle and use the device to balance and carry some of their weight. Some patients may use one temporarily during physical therapy, while others may need to use one on a more permanent basis.
There are a variety of reasons one may need to use a medical walker. Patients who have trouble walking because of an injury may move from a wheelchair to a walker during the course of rehabilitation. The walker allows them to practice, slowly putting more weight on their legs and to regain muscle strength without the risk of falling. They are typically sturdier and able to withstand more weight than crutches but are less restricting than a wheelchair.
Other patients may use a medical walker long-term due to physical limitations caused by injury, arthritis, or illness. Some individuals suffer from conditions which make walking unassisted hazardous due to the threat of falling. Others find it too painful to place full pressure on the legs. Walkers are often used by the elderly, but people of all ages my require their use at some point.
One may find a medical walker at professional pharmacies or medical supply stores. Prices vary based on the size and construction of the item. Some have wheels on the back for smoother use while others stand on a wide base of four legs. These are often lifted slightly off the ground with each step.
There are alternatives to the medical walker, including wheelchairs, crutches, and scooters. Patients should discuss their options with a physician to determine which choice is best for them. Some may implement more than one of these options depending on the day and severity of their condition. Crutches are typically reserved for those with a temporary illness or injury rather than those with long-term mobility challenges.
Insurance may cover the cost of a medical walker, but this depends on the policy. Some elderly or disabled patients may receive government assistance if a doctor advocates that the walker is needed. Most walkers are not overly expensive with many models falling well below $100 US Dollars and some higher end models ranging just above that.