From birth, humans strive for independence, the basic form of which is mobility. From crawling to walking and running, movement and the ability to travel from one place to another is a crucial part in becoming self-sufficient. Unfortunately, accidents, injuries, and other catastrophes can occur and rob a person of their mobility. The ultimate goal of a physical therapist is to help patients regain function to improve the quality of their life and to get back their independence. The best equipment is not necessarily the most fancy with all the bells and whistles, but the one that can be used by patients of all walks and ages in many settings. Therefore, the most important piece of equipment for my patients is the walker.
Why: Walkers are crucial for aiding mobility, exercise, and overall confidence with walking. They assist in upright movement by providing stability, reducing lower-limb loading, and decreasing fall risk. Without stability, there cannot be mobility. With multiple points of contact with the ground, walkers provide a wide, stable base of support that gives patients a needed sense of safety. Walkers are used to assist with ambulation of patients who are unable to bear weight through an injured limb due to trauma, fractures, amputations, joint replacements, or soft tissue impairments. By directing body weight through the arms and the walking aid, less or no force is transmitted through the affected limb. With the use of walkers, patients are able to strengthen and rehabilitate satisfactorily without further damage to the impaired areas.
Clinical & Practicality: Treatment using walkers are present in hospitals, nursing homes, and outpatient clinics. Walkers are a great tool for sit-to-stand transfers and a helpful aid during rehabilitation exercises, such as gait and balance training, strength training, and home exercise programs. They can also be used by patients who need to be mobile with other medical equipment, such as an oxygen tank or catheter. Not only are walkers of great use in the clinical setting, but they are also facilitative in patients’ everyday lives. Walkers are a safe way for patients to move about their homes and community settings. Walking aids are available in many varieties customizable to each patient’s specific needs. For example, some walkers come with seat or basket options that can be used to carry and transport an assortment of everyday items, such as laundry and groceries. Walkers provide patients with independent mobility even with severely diminished functional capabilities. In those cases, patients are able to get back their independence, social life, and overall health with the help of a walker.
Finances: Aside from the clinical benefits walkers provide, their financial perks cannot be disregarded. The main benefit from using a walker is the prevention of fractures due to falls. These accidents cause personal misery, diminished function, and permanent damage, not to mention monetary exhaustion. Even if there is a decline in general health of a patient, a walker can reduce the risk of stumbling and the expensive medical treatment needed thereafter. When a patient can be as active as possible with the help of a walker, muscles and bones get stronger, which can reduce fractures if a fall still occurs. Surgery, rehabilitation, and care homes are all very costly; all can be avoided with the proper use of a walker.
Lastly: Walkers are the most important piece of medical equipment because they not only give patients mobility, but are also a beneficial long term investment. Yes, walkers help patients regain their self-worth and connection with their community, but that’s not all. Through the use of walkers, patients are also able to enjoy their regained independence due to financial freedom, unburdened by medical bills. Though they may not be the fanciest of equipments, walkers provide mobility and bolster the human fight for independence.
Thank You for Your Attention.
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Edited: Ffrancesca Famorcan