Pimp My Assistive Walking Device

walker

Introduction

In 2007, I broke my hip in a bizarre non-accident and was consequently relegated to limping behind a walker for six months (See Walkernastics). When a reader recently wrote that she, too, was temporarily consigned to an assistive walking device, I searched my archives to find this discussion of customizing one’s walker beyond that macramé pouch your grandmother dangled from the crossbar.

The Basic Ride

Ecstatic as I was to climb behind the crossbars of my shiny new standard walker,1 I soon lamented that it was – well, so standard.

Of course, this conveyance is only a tool, an adjunctive ambulatory apparatus to which I will bid good riddance after a month or two. Clearly, the reasonable course of action is be to limit any efforts on its behalf to maintenance, keeping the thing clean and its moving parts lubricated.

Yep, that would be the reasonable way to go.

On the other hand, …

Furry Dice, Suicide Knobs, and Spinner Hubcaps

On some level, there seems little difference between this walker and my first car – a turquoise and white 57 Chevy my daddy sold when it was brand new eight years earlier to a local farmer whose first choice of options was plastic seat covers.

While furry dice never dangled from the mirror of my car, I managed to scrounge from my father’s and grandfather’s car lots a set of spinner hubcaps, chrome cylinder covers, and myriad other adornments.

Well treasured, for example, were a collection of those driving implements officially classified as “steering grips” that were, in my neck of the woods, known only as “spinner knobs,” “suicide knobs,” or “necker knobs.” The Eight-Ball model shown to the right is a classic.

Consequently, I’ve been looking at what’s available to jazz up the walker and impress the chicks.

The Aftermarket

Readily available form various medical supply stores and bike shops are a number of affordable enhancements.2

The flag on a whip is a much needed safety feature for ATVs, bikes, and, of course, my walker.

I’m leaning, however toward something more patriotic.

 

For the safety of others, these mountable bicycle horns are possibilities.

 

As are these mountable truck horns.

Go ahead – try ’em out. The catalog site points out that the sample sound file is representative of the tone but not the volume of the actual horns.

 

Also falling in the audiovisual alert category are these nifty lights

 

Which can be matched with equally nifty siren sounds:

 

Obviously, cup holders and carriers are necessities these days.

I’m especially excited about the prospect of slapping on a set of way cool mirrors, such as those shown in this grouping along with a light (for walking after midnight) and a couple of the many bells available.

Here’s Something That Seems Odd
One can even buy “Tennis Ball Glides” for $15 (with a $19 savings).

Or one can, as indeed I did, buy authentic tennis balls at an even greater savings.

The Rebels

These accessories only scratch the surface. In my searches, I stumbled onto Blue Cross Guidelines on reimbursable and non-reimbursable options for assistive devices. The interesting stuff is the long list of “Not Reimbursable” item. Check out these samples:

  • Ice chest holders
  • Snow tires for the assistive devices
  • Holders for cellular phones, CD players, and such
  • Towing packages3
  • Firearm/weapon holder/support

So, if you hear the blast of an air horn and turn around to see a walker equipped with, say, a pirate flag and cup holders filled with vodka tonics, just recall I may have opted for the firearm/weapon holder/support.

Credit Due Department: Photo of 1957 Chevy by GTHOOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link. . Motorcycle photo by S Pakhrin from DC, USA – Rolling Thunder Rally DC 2014, CC BY 2.0, Link

Note: Originally posted Jul 31, 2007 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of AllanShowalter.com

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  1. The official designation for “walker,” according to the signage in the Physical Therapy Department, is Assistive Walking Device. Upon actually using said device, one realizes the more accurate appellation would be Assistive Hopping Device or, for more adventuresome user, Assistive Lurching Device. []
  2. While not my focus, I am taken by the technological capacities available on assistive devices that not only offer way cool functions but names that are just as cool. For example,

    Tilt-in-space:Individuals who are wheelchair confined and cannot reposition themselves can operate a manual tilt-in-space feature to medically manage pressure relief.

    Hemi-height: Many standard and most lightweight manual wheelchairs have an axle or base option that allows the wheelchair to be converted from standard to hemi-height positions. Hemi-height allows the user to use one or both feet to self-propel the manual wheelchair.

    Swing away hardware: Swing away, retractable, or removable hardware is used to move the component out of the way to enable the individual transfer to a chair or bed.

    []

  3. It is unclear to me what is being towed by what, but I like the concept regardless. []

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