Mzee Wilson seriously needed a walking aid. After diagnosis of Parkinson’s at the age of 63, he had been using a walking cane and things seemed right for sometimes. But now, here he was looking for a better solution. Obviously the walking cane was not that effective. It was hurting his wrist and at the same time, he was less stable. We tried a standard walker(with no wheels) but it was not that effective.
Then someone suggested that we use the ustep walker which had been proved to be great for most Parkinson’s patients.
Here is our list of best parkinson’s walkers arranged in order of rating:
U Step Walker Best of the best
BMC shows that the prevalence of freezing of gait in Parkinson’s patient stands at 15%.
Gait freezing is a brief moment of lack of forward moment even when you want to move on. It occurs in a Parkinson’s patient when they face an obstacle, move to a new pattern on the floor or are negotiating a corner or walking through a narrow hallway.
According to NCBI, assisted walking either on a standard or wheeled walker may increase confidence in a Parkinson’s patient. However, it does not increase speed or reduce freezing (It was found out that when using a standard walker, Parkinson’s patients will freeze more than if they were unassisted. Walking with a cane was found to be the slowest).
Other than using a walker, famous physiotherapists who run this Youtube channel feel that having rhythmic music or rhythmic counting could help in reducing gait freezing. This could explain why some walkers have beepers that prompt a patient to make another step. Prompting a walker on where next to step on could also help and that is why some walkers have laser attachments. Home exercises might help
According to the research done in 19 PD patients, the wheeled walker was the most recommended. It gets even better if you are to use one that has laser attachment. Though it will not increase the speed of the patient or reduce freezing, it does boost the confidence of the person and is way faster than when using a standard walker.
Another NCBI study found out that the four wheeled walker offers better mobility and safety.
How to Choose Best Walker for Parkinson’s Patients
In this article, I will explore what to look for when buying the best walkers for Parkinson’s patients
Reduced risk of falling
The goal of getting a walker for parkinson’s walker is to reduce the risk of falling as well as improving the gait of the patient, right? Well, you want a stable walker that will offer support to the patient while at the same time reducing the risk of the patient falling.
Before getting any walker, you also want to consider whether the patient is demented or not. For a demented person, even the best walker might not serve the purpose. They would need you to supervise them and walk with them all the time.
Weight of walker
At times, the patient will find places where they might have to raise the walker a little bit or when they have to raise, collapse it to carry in the car trunk, at such times, the weight of the walker becomes an issue. You want the lightest walker, right?
Ease of accessing raised surfaces, stairs, narrow hallways
A wheeled rollator is the best kind of walker because it can get over bumpy places, go easily over stairs if it has back casters which you can step on and raise it a bit. It also needs to rotate tightly so that you can easily get through narrow doors. The width of the rollator plays a role too since you want it to get past narrow hallways with ease.
Ease of motion
A standard walker is not as good as a rollator since the patient will find it harder to walk with it. A wheeled walker on the other hand allows you to move faster.
Ease of collapsing
The walker should be easily collapsible so that you can collapse it when you get home or when not in use.
A walker with a braking system is great especially when you are using it in the toilet or when sitting so that you do not fall when it moves unexpectedly.
When walking for long distance, a PD patient will want to rest on the way before they get to their destination. A walker with a chair will therefore be good.
Best Walkers for Parkinson’s Patients
Having that guide out of the way, let us look at four wheeled walkers that offer great mobility around different surfaces while at the same time not compromising on safety and comfort.
#1. U step Rollator Walker
We found the U step walker to be a great choice for Parkinson’s patients. We gave this to a 65 year old PD patient and we were pleased with how stably he walked and got around places without a caregiver having to man him.
The old gentleman felt more confident that he could things on his own and he is now taking strolls outside the compound on his own.
One feature that we loved about the u step walker was the reverse braking system. Before getting it, we found that on a normal rollator walker a patient would fall and when on the ground, they would hold the brakes.
This was of course too late!
With the reverse braking system though, these type of accidents have been minimized. The walker is braked and it is the patient to let go of the brakes by holding it.
The walker is very stable. This has to do with the much welded metalwork at the base.
Another great feature is how you can navigate narrow hallways and tight corners with this walker.
When not walking, you can sit comfortably on it.
If you are walking on raised stairs, you need to only step the walker’s back and it will raise itself really nicely.
Great features of the U step rollator walker
- -Innovative Reverse braking system
- -Stable base with the centre of gravity around the base
- -Ability to get through tight corners
- –Pad at back to get past bumpy constrictions
- –Covered by medicare
- –Narrow at 23 inches so that you get easily get past narrow doorways without much hassle.
#2. Drive Medical RTL10266 Nitro Euro Style Rollator Walker, Standard Height, Red
One thing that did not attract me about the Drive medical Nitro euro style rollator walker was the extra-large casters. You see as a Parkinson’s patient, you want a walker whose centre of gravity is as low as possible. This ensures for stability of the patient and help to reduce falls.
With a raised walker design though, the reduction of falls is not guaranteed. Again, the braking system is not as innovative as that of the u-step. With a demented patient or one who easily forgets to brake their rollator, they will most probably use it without the brakes on in the toilet and this could again lead to accidents.
That said though there are still some Parkinson’s patients who would still find the rollator a great tool especially owing to the sturdy design of the casters so that it can walk on any terrain. Two, it has an ergonomic seat so that even when taking those long walks, you do not really have to worry since you can rest mid-way.
It is also easily collapsible so that you can fold it nicely and carry it in your car trunk or keep it for later use. I should also mention that it is really light weight but at the same time will be able to carry even a bulky person weighing upto 350lbs.
Features of the Drive Medical Nitro Euro Rollator Walker
- 4 Wheeled design
- Comes with padded seat for patient
- High caster and not very stable
- Standard braking system
#3. Comodita Tipo Classic Walker
Armed with a cane and cup holder, double foldable collapsible model and really lightweight, the Comodita Tipo classic has been praised as a great walker. It however did not impress me especially because of the high casters and standard braking system.
That said though, it has a comfy seat plus it can accommodate a weight of upto 300lbs.
Features of the Comodita Tipo Classic walker for parkinson’s patients
- Double fold action
- Comes with a carry bag
- Supports a weight of upto 300lbs
- Durable aluminium wheels.
Frequently Asked Questions about Walkers for Parkinson’s patients
Are Laser attachments any good on walkers?
Though laser attachment can increase the confidence of a patient by showing them where they are going to step next, there is no study that shows that they can make the patient more stable or reduce gait freezing.
Do walkers increase speed for a Parkinson’s patient
No cane, standard walker or wheeled walker will increase the walking speed of a Parkinson’s patient. In fact, they all lower the speed with the walking cane lowering the speed most.
Do the walkers reduce freezing?
Studies show that walkers do not reduce gait freezing in a Parkinson’s patient.
Are the Parkinson’s walkers approved by Medicare insurance cover
Walkers such as the u step walker are approved by Medicare. You will however have to contact Medicare before buying one.