Although this guide includes information about other types of walking aids - sticks and crutches, simpler walking frames and trolleys - most of the information here is about the different types of three- and four-wheeled walking frames and what to look out for. Our test reports provide details of the 18 wheeled walking frames that we have assessed.
Below are some general points to consider. Before looking at the test reports, however, we recommend that you read about the features of walking frames, so that you can know all of the options to look for when comparing models.
Why get a wheeled walking frame?
- can be used inside and out
- suitable for long trips
- can all be folded for transport or storage
- most have baskets for shopping
- some have seats so you can have short rests
Think about how you'll be using the walking frame and work out which of these things will be most important for you. Take this list with you into the shop.
You really need to have a good try-out with any walking frame before you buy it, making sure it will help with everything you want it for. Try out any features you are likely to need. Try the handles and seat for comfort for as long as you can.
Even if you're buying online or by mail order, you can go to a Disabled Living Centre to have a look at the available models.
- Is the walking frame suitable for the places you'll be using it?
- Will you be using it indoors?
- Will it fit in your home?
- Will it go through your door?
- Will you be using it outdoors?
- If you have sloping or uneven ground, will it be all right on that?
- Is the walking frame suitable for someone of your size?
- Get it adjusted to the right height for you. Try it out.
- Is it comfortable?
- Is it strong enough to support your weight? Walking frames are available for particularly heavy people.
- Will you need to fold the walking frame?
- If so, can you fold and unfold it safely?
- Can you pick it up when it's folded?
- Can you tell when it is securely unfolded?
- Try the hand grips for as long as you can. Will they be comfortable?
- Try the brakes. Make sure you can work them.
- Try the seat for comfort and for stability.
- Will you be using the bag or basket?
- If so, can you get at it easily enough?
- Will you have to unpack it to fold the walking frame if you have to?
Your walking frame shouldn't need much in the way of maintenance. You should keep it clean and check the wheels and moving parts for wear.
You do need to check the joints and catches to see that they have not become worn with use. If they are badly worn, the walking frame will need to be replaced.
Brakes shouldn't need much maintenance, if they've been set up properly. Pressure brakes have rubber ferrules - these need to be checked regularly and replaced if worn. Strap and lever brakes may need to be adjusted to allow for wear. Make sure that you know how to do this, or that there's someone around who can help. It's easy to do, but with some types you'll need two spanners (not supplied with the frame) and two hands.
Some shops will offer to help with regular servicing for a fee.
Last updated: February 2010