Zimmer frames, also known as walking frames or simply walkers, are among the most widely used mobility aids. Lightweight, easy to use, adjustable and affordable, Zimmer frames make walking safer and more accessible for millions of people worldwide.
Before we get into which factors to look for when choosing the best zimmer frame for your particular needs, let’s get a quick overview of walking frames in general.
The basic design of Zimmer frames has changed very little since the device was developed in the early 1950s.
The classic walker consists of a lightweight 3-sided metal frame about waist high, approximately 18″ to 20″ deep, and about 25″ wide, or just a little wider than the user.
Most frames are constructed of hollow aluminium tubing, and the majority are both height-adjustable and foldable for easy storage or transport.
The bottoms of the frame’s legs are typically covered with durable rubber tips, though modern frames often feature wheels or gliders on the front legs to make walking easier.
Wheels or gliders allow the user to push the frame forward without lifting it and are a good choice for users with balance problems or limited arm strength.
To walk with a Zimmer frame, the user steps into the open back of the frame and grasps built-in handgrips on the tops of the sides. The user then lifts or slides the frame a few inches forward and walks to it, still holding onto the side handgrips for stability and support. By repeating this process, the user can walk safely indoors or out.
This simple system has brought safe, convenient mobility to millions of seniors and disabled people.
If you think a Zimmer frame would be a good tool for you or someone you care for, follow these simple tips for selecting the model that will serve you best.
Zimmer frames are available in three width classes. The standard style frame, typically used in hospitals and nursing homes, is 25″ wide. While this width conveniently accommodates users of all sizes, it could be challenging to maneuver through narrow halls and doorways like those in many houses and apartments.
For use in crowded environments, the domestic style frame, which is approximately 22″ wide, could be a better choice. For very cramped situations, an ultra-narrow style frame, measuring just 18″ to 20″ wide, might be the answer.
While domestic or ultra-narrow frames may be easier to navigate in household situations, it’s important to remember that the standard style’s broader frame base offers the greatest stability. Narrow frames may not be a good choice for users with balance problems or are likely to place more weight on one side of the frame.
Buyers should also keep in mind that frames tend to be narrower in the front, generally by about 2 inches on each side so that a Zimmer frame may be a full 4 inches narrower in the front than the rear. Measure your doors and hallways carefully and go with the broadest frame that will work in your circumstances.
Getting a Zimmer frame in the correct height range is extremely important. If the frame is too short, the user will have to stoop to walk, and if it’s too tall, the user won’t be able to effectively transmit body weight to the frame for support.
The ideal height of the frame from floor to handgrips is equal to the distance of the user’s wrist bone to the floor when the user is standing upright wearing ordinary footwear.
Zimmer frame models often come in only one height-adjustable size. Still, they are sometimes manufactured in various sizes, each one offering up to five adjustable height options in increments of one inch.
When you have measured your ideal frame height look for the height range in which your perfect height falls close to the middle.
The final decision to make is whether you want your frame to have rubber tips, wheels, or glides on the bottom of the front legs. There are good reasons for each choice, so it’s important to personalise your Zimmer frame with the leg style that will serve you best.
Rubber caps or ferrules are durable and help prevent slipping, but they can’t be pushed forward and require that the user lift the frame as part of the walking process.
Wheels fitted to the bottom of the front legs of the frame eliminate the need to pick up the whole frame while walking, but the wheels don’t swivel, so maneuvering in close quarters could be difficult, and the user might have to lift the frame to get around a tight corner.
Glides or “skis” on the bottoms of the front legs are a good alternative for users who don’t want to have to lift the frame while walking but don’t like the idea of dealing with non-swivelling wheels.
Packages of gliders can be purchased separately and used to replace the front-leg ferrules. They move smoothly over carpet and flooring and eliminate the need for lifting the frame while walking, and they can be easier than wheels when it comes to turning tight corners.
If you’re looking for a simple, basic Zimmer frame, you can’t go wrong with the Folding Lightweight Aluminium Walking Zimmer Frame from Elite Care. Budget-priced at about £33, this frame provides solid, stable walking security in a classic design.
Made of sleek, lightweight aluminium, this Zimmer frame features comfortable hand grips and rubber ferrule tips on all four legs. Its 25″ width and 21″ depth will accommodate most users, and its height is adjustable from 32″ to 35.5″. This frame folds easily for transport or storage and is suitable for users up to 115 kg or 18 stone in weight. Well reviewed and highly recommended by satisfied users, this Zimmer frame is a popular classic
Users looking for a wheeled walker should consider Drive Medical’s WA009 Folding Walking Frame with Front Wheels. This top-selling frame, affordably priced at about £25, features smoothly-operating wheels on the front legs and rubber ferrules on the rear legs. It’s lightweight aluminium and includes vinyl contoured handgrips and an easy-fold mechanism for transport or storage. This frame is 25″ wide, 18″ deep, height-adjustable from 32″ to 39″, and is suitable for users up to 180 kg or 28 stone in weight. Equally, this Zimmer frame is an excellent value at home, indoors or out.
If you need an ultra-narrow frame, Aidapt’s Ultra Narrow Light Weight Walking Frame might fit the bill. Though it measures just under 19″ wide, this walking frame is suitable for users up to 28 stone in weight, and it’s height-adjustable from 34″ to 39″. Designed to be slim enough to navigate through the narrowest doors and around the tightest corners with ease, this frame comes equipped with smooth motion wheels on the front legs and durable non-skid rubber ferrules on the rear legs. It’s constructed of strong, lightweight aluminium, and at a price of just over £26, it’s an outstanding buy and a very popular choice.
A package of Walker Glides can transform a standard Zimmer frame easily and affordably. These nylon glides measure three .5″ long by 1.25″ wide and fits easily into most standard 1.5″ Zimmer frame legs. They slide easily over carpeting and other indoor surfaces, eliminating the need to lift the frame while walking. Priced at just under £9, they’re a simple and affordable option that can make walking safer and more accessible for many users.