Hereditary Ataxia

Hereditary Ataxia

A walker is a tool that can help you be steadier on your feet. Use a walker if you: Had an injury or operation Have arthritis Have an illness that makes it hard to move Have problems with your balance Can only put a certain amount of weight on your leg Most walkers have 2 side pieces and a bar that connects them in the front. Many walkers fold so you can take them with you. Your doctor or therapist will help you find the right kind of walker for you and teach you how to use it. There are several different types of walkers: Standard walker – Has 4 legs with rubber tips at the bottom and is the most stable. It works best for people with bad balance or those who may need to limit how much weight they put on one leg. You must pick this walker up and move it with each step. You may need a special walker if you are very heavy or very short. Front wheeled walker – Has 2 wheels in the front and 2 legs in the back. You can move this walker without picking it up. Swivel walker – Has wheels on all 4 legs and the back 2 wheels swivel. You must have good balance to use this walker. It allows you to steady yourself when you walk, but not put a lot of weight on your arms. Rollator – Has 4 large wheels, hand brakes, and a folding seat. This type of walker is good for someone who tires easily as you can sit on the seat and rest if you need to. You must have good balance to use this walker. Platform walker – Has pads to rest your forearms on. This type of walker is made for someone who cannot grip a regular walker or put much weight on their arms. Kaye swivel walker or Posterior posture walker – Has wheels on all 4 legs, the bar in the back, and the opening in the front. This kind of walker is often used with children. Hemi-walker – Is used with only one hand instead of both hands. This kind of walker is most often used when you can’t grip on one side. This walker is wider at the bottom than a cane. Knee walker – Has a platform for your knee, four wheels, and a handle to help you steer. It looks like a scooter. Your knee rests on the platform in a bent position. This type of walker is often used after ankle surgery. Make sure your walker is the correct height. Put on the shoes you wear most of the time. When you stand up and put your arms down at your side, the handle of the walker should be at the crease of your wrist. This allows for a slight bend in your elbow when you walk. If the walker is too high, you won't be able to get the proper support with your arms. It may also cause you to walk too far away from the walker. If it is too low, you may bend over too much when you walk. How to sit, stand, and walk: To sit down - Have the back of your legs touch the seat of the chair. Reach back with your hands and slowly sit down. Do not hold on to the walker when you sit down as it could tip. To stand up - Use your hands to push off the seat you are sitting on. Then hold on to your walker. Never pull on the walker as it could tip. To walk - Move the walker forward first and set all 4 legs down. If both legs are strong, you can step forward with either leg to line up with the back legs of the walker. Do not step all the way to the front of the walker. If one leg is weaker, step forward with your weaker leg, then step forward with your stronger leg. Repeat, moving the walker, then your weaker leg, then your stronger leg. Always take small steps when you turn and move slowly. How to go up and down steps and curbs: Use elevators or ramps if they are available. These are safer than going up or down steps or curbs. You may want to have another person with you to keep you safe when you go up or down steps or curbs. Some people say, “Up with the good.” This helps them remember that when you go up, you start with your good or strong leg. They also say, “Down with the bad.” This reminds them that when they go down steps or curbs, they should start with their weaker or bad leg. Going up a curb: Facing the curb: Line your walker close to the curb and get your balance. Carefully, lift your walker up onto the curb. Make sure all 4 legs of the walker are on even ground. You may need a family member or friend to help you lift your walker onto the curb. Hold your walker with both hands, place the brakes on your walker if it has brakes, and raise your strong leg up onto the curb. Then, bring your weak leg up as well. You can then release the brake on your walker and move forward. Back to the curb: Line your walker up close to the curb with your heel near the curb. Push straight down on the walker with your hands and step backwards up onto the curb with your strong leg. Bring your weak leg up and get your balance. Slowly, bring your walker up on the curb and make sure all 4 legs are on even ground. Going down a curb: Line your walker up close to the curb and get your balance. Carefully, lift your walker down onto the ground. You may need a family member or friend to help you place your walker down on the ground. Make sure all 4 legs of the walker are on even ground and place the brakes on your walker if it has brakes. Hold your walker with both hands. Lower your weaker leg first, then your stronger leg. If you cannot put any weight on one leg, place the injured leg out in front and carefully lower your strong leg to the ground. Going up steps that have a railing: Fold up your walker. Grab the rail with one hand. Put the walker two steps up from the ground. The folded walker should be just far enough away from the edge to be securely on the step. Slowly, bring your strong leg onto the step in front of you. Next bring up your weak leg. Move the walker up to the next step and repeat until you get to the top of the steps. As you climb stairs, raise your strong foot first and then bring up your weak foot. Going down steps with a railing: Fold up your walker. Grab the rail with one hand. Put the walker two steps below you. The folded walker should be up against the back of the step. Step down with your weaker leg first. Then, bring down your strong leg. If you cannot put any weight on one leg, place the injured leg out in front and carefully lower your strong leg to the ground. Move the walker down to the next step and repeat until you get to the bottom of the steps. As you go down the stairs, lower your weak leg first and then bring down your strong leg. Repeat with each step until you reach the bottom of the stairs.