Harvard Health Letter

Walkers: Take steps to enjoy this great mobility tool

Work with a physical therapist to learn how to use a walker to best advantage so you can take back your independence.

Walkers can put you back in action if you're recovering from an injury or surgery, or if you're struggling with balance and gait problems, fatigue, or muscle weakness. "Walkers help give people their independence back. They improve daily function, and they reduce the risk of falling," says Dr. Clare Safran-Norton, a physical therapist and clinical supervisor of rehabilitation services at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Getting started

You should never attempt to use a walker without a formal physical therapy evaluation for gait, balance, and strength, as well as the proper training to use the device. "For most people, it takes a few physical therapy sessions," says Dr. Safran-Norton.

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