or walking frame
is a tool
A tool is a device that can be used to produce an item or achieve a task, but that is not consumed in the process. Informally the word is also used to describe a procedure or process with a specific purpose. Tools that are used in particular fields or activities may have different designations such...
for disabled or elderly people who need additional support to maintain balance or stability while walking
Walking is one of the main gaits of locomotion among legged animals, and is typically slower than running and other gaits. Walking is defined by an 'inverted pendulum' gait in which the body vaults over the stiff limb or limbs with each step...
. The British English
British English, or English , is the broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere...
common equivalent term for a walker is Zimmer frame
- from Zimmer Holdings
-History:Zimmer was founded in 1927 and is headquartered in Warsaw, Indiana, where it is part of the medical devices business cluster there.-Products:...
, a major manufacturer of such devices and joint replacement
Replacement arthroplasty [from Greek arthron, joint, limb, articulate, + -plassein, to form, mould, forge, feign, make an image of], or joint replacement surgery, is a procedure of orthopedic surgery in which the arthritic or dysfunctional joint surface is replaced with an orthopaedic prosthesis...
A type of walker was patented on 10 May 1988 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
A baby walker is a device that can be used by infants who cannot walk on their own to move from one place to another. Patents have been issued for baby walkers as early as 1851. Modern baby walkers have a base made of hard plastic sitting on top of wheels and a suspended fabric seat with two leg...
) 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
A caster is an undriven, single, double, or compound wheel that is designed to be mounted to the bottom of a larger object so as to enable that object to be easily moved...
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.
A different approach to the walker is the rollator
, also called wheeled walker, invented by the Swede Aina Wifalk in 1978. It is a frame with wheels, and a seat platter in the frame to allow the user to stop and rest as needed. 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 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.
In May 2007, a group of elderly people in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...
formed a rock group to highlight the plight and difficulties associated with old age. They called themselves The Zimmers
The Zimmers are a British band, thought to have the oldest members of any band in the world. The oldest member claims to have been born in 1906, although some sources indicate he was born in 1913. The former lead singer Alf Carretta died on 29 June 2010, aged 93...
in recognition of this generic
A genericized trademark is a trademark or brand name that has become the colloquial or generic description for, or synonymous with, a general class of product or service, rather than as an indicator of source or affiliation as intended by the trademark's holder...