Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Walking frames and trolleys

Walking frames - indoor and outdoor

If you need a lot of support, you should get a walking frame. Walking frames are usually adjustable and come in a range of sizes. 

It's important to get the right height. The handles should be level with your wrist bone when you're standing in your natural upright position with your arms down. (Your wrist bone is the hard lump that sticks out on the same side as your little finger.)

For safety, support and comfort, it's also important that you walk as upright as you can and that you don't have to lean forwards to reach the handles. You should be able to walk right inside the frame with the handles by your thighs. On some frames, the seat or something else is in the way and you'll find yourself having to lean forwards over the hand grips. Some seats fold up out of the way while you walk.

Walking frame with no wheels
No wheels
Walking frame with two wheels
Two wheels
Walking frame with four wheels
Four wheels

Simple walking frames without wheels: Often called Zimmer frames, these are designed for use around the home, though you can use them outdoors on level surfaces. You can get folding ones.

Two-wheeled walking frames: These can be easier to use because you don't need to stop to move the frame forwards between steps. They are not suitable for outdoors, because the wheels are very small and the ferrules on the back legs wear out very quickly.

Three and four-wheeled walking frames: These can be used both indoors and outdoors, though some are quite large, which might cause difficulties if your rooms are small. Most come with trays, baskets or bags for carrying things. Many have seats, which you can use to take a short rest. We cover these in much more detail, including features to look out for and how to go about buying one, in our pages on wheeled walking frames.

We tested 18 walking frames for this guide - see our wheeled walking frame test reports.

Trolleys - indoor and outdoor

Trolley for indoor useTrolley for outdoor use
Indoor trolley (left) and outdoor trolley (right)

A trolley can help if you just need a little bit of support to give you confidence, or assistance with carrying things.

  • household trolleys are designed to help you carry things indoors
  • shopping trolleys can be a great help when going outdoors

Think about where you are going to use the trolley. Indoor trolleys can be difficult to steer through doorways or over thresholds, carpets or uneven floors.

Last updated: February 2010


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