29 June 2010
Readers will recall me mentioning my gutter frame, which is no more or less than an ordinary Zimmer frame with two gutter supports bolted to the top onto which one can rest one’s forearms. The only other difference between this and most similar frames is that it has two hard plastic wheels on the front two legs. I find this extremely easy to use and can get about, at some speed, inside the house, and indeed have tried outside from time to time but the wheels are really not suitable for anything other than the smoothest of surfaces. This being so I trawled the Internet last week for something similar, with larger rubber wheels. which I could use outside whilst my legs are still working and before I become confined to a wheelchair. I discovered one such â€˜wheeled walkerâ€™ which is cleverly designed so that brakes could be applied, to the back wheels, by exerting pressure on one’s elbows. In addition, the whole thing folds in half which would make it much easier to store in the boot of a car or the hold of an aircraft. I was so excited at the discovery that I bought one, at around Â£200.
This new walker arrived last Friday and I could not wait to try it out. Having assembled it, I tried it out on to the brick paving in front of the house. I went no more than 5 yards before it started to topple over and I realise that it’s big mistake was only having three wheels. To my mind, unfortunately, this made this particular walker unfit for purpose, as, due to its specific design the walker has to rely on leaning heavily on the arm rests which makes the likelihood of toppling it, more likely, one way or the other, if the wheels hit the slightest obstacle. I abandoned it immediately and telephoned the suppliers to collect it, pointing out its deficiencies. Having said that, I believe that if they redesigned it is a four wheeler it would still be possible for it to incorporate the braking device and still fold in half for ease of transport. I put this to the manufacturers, who hopefully will be pursuing this idea.
In the meantime I have decided that I can solve my problem by replacing the small hard plastic wheels on the front of my Zimmer frame with external rubber one’s — not recommended by the occupational therapists. After making half a dozen different telephone calls I did manage to find a company who could provide me with a pair of wheels with an axle which I hope I will be able to put through the same hole as the axle on the existing wheels of the Zimmer frame, or, if not, a slightly enlarged one. Of course, I will then have to be careful not to use this for going down steep slopes or ramps, but providing I am sensible and broadly stick to flat ground, I believe this could solve my problem.
My neighbour had a similar problem with the 3 wheeled walker as it kept toppling over ,taking him with it.He managed to get it replaced by a 4 wheeled one.My aunt in Denmark also has a 4 wheeled one ,so they are made.