People who need to use walkers should select such devices with care and look for the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) medical device license number, the agency said.
As people grow older, they might start to feel weakness in their legs or shakiness when they walk, the agency said.
Some become worried about falling down, or do not want to bother family members for help in walking outside, and gradually end up staying home instead, it added.
Age, nerve lesions, muscle injuries and bone fractures can all affect a person’s ability to walk, and choosing a proper assistive walking device or walker can people move on their own and limit injuries from falls, it said.
There are three common types of walkers — standard, reciprocal and wheeled — but wheeled walkers might be more appropriate for older people who are just beginning to learn how to use such devices, New Taipei City Assistive Device Center director Yang Chung-i (楊忠一) said.
A standard walker, with rubber-tipped legs, must be lifted and then put down as the user moves forward. However, elderly people sometimes lose their balance when they lift the walker with both hands, or tip it over if they push too hard, he said.
A reciprocal walker does not have to be completely lifted to move forward, but sometimes the user might become confused about which foot moves forward with which arm if they are walking at a quick pace, he said.
Wheeled walkers, which have wheels on the front legs, might be the best for beginners, because they do not need to be lifted to move forward, and users can usually walk more quickly than they would using a standard walker.
However, he said people should consult with a physical therapist or specialists at assistive device centers on how to walk with such devices.
Consumers should carefully read the labels on the walkers, check if they have an FDA-approved medical device license number and read the instructions carefully before using the device, the agency said.