How about a walker? ( Maybe you'd call it ... - PSP Association

PSP Association

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How about a walker? ( Maybe you'd call it a zimmer frame?)


My sweetheart has agreed to try using a walker. The cane doesn't seem to be enough - although we forget to bring it along quite a bit, so perhaps it could help more than we let it. He's so unsteady for the first steps after he stands; could a walker help him with that? Should I try to find one I can weight down in front to keep him from going over backwards? I would be grateful for any advice or insight. He's not ready for a wheelchair - that's a question for a later day.

23 Replies

Hiya eastrencedar I had a three wheel mobilator but have just got a 4 wheel one which has a seat on it and a bag at front sourced of E Bay a third of the cost

Spoke to OT re a weighted one but they didn't really know much about them got to admit the 4 wheeler deffo better than the 3 wheeler and handy having the seat to

Mum got hers free from the falls team based at hospital

.The switch board gave us the number

Easterncedar. My wife who was diagnosed 2 years ago but has had PSP for probably 5 years or so is using a walker. It certainly helps her out and she feels a little more independant not always holding on to me. She started off with a cane but the occupational therapist quickly told us not to use it with this condition. If it could be weighted that would probably help but my wifes isn't and it hasn't caused a problem. Regrettably I don't think we are too far away from a wheel chair. Even with the walker she is falling 20 to 30 times a month, usually when she let's go of it to reach for something.

Hi Easterncedar, my husband uses a 4wheeled walker indoors but wheelchair outside. He was diagnosed in 2010. I have to walk behind him all the time now as he will fall backwards and over the past couple of months has started falling to his left as well. A 3wheeler would be no good at all for him. Unfortunately I can see the time coming soon when he'll need a wheelchair indoors as well as he is very unstable. He had a sitter for 2 hours yesterday and fell even though she was behind him. I had suggested she take the bottle to him when he needed it but she decided it would be good for him to walk to the toilet.

Nanna B

Dear Easterncedar,

I am a very active supporter of any type of device that keeps a person mobile and allows freeedom and independence to retain relationships that are not dependent on a carer.

My suggestion to you is to not dismiss items because you think your partner is not ready for them. But rather think where could you and him do and go to if he had a 'given' piece of equipment. For example John would not have enjoyed as much our daughters school presentation night yesterday, visited old work mates for a Christmas reunion, movies last week, out to lunch the week before, gone to the movies, markets, or thoroughly enjoyed his recent farmstay at an apple orchard!

My husband uses different devices each day dependent on how his body is working on that day. Each have proved to be worth there weight in gold (Mine you the KAYE walker was pricey!).Without them though - I am sure there would have been more injuries for John and carer. Ask a nurse over 50 years old - about what is bad about their profession and everyone wil list back and shoulder injuries as their own number one concern!

John uses a light zimmer frame (the sort you may see being used on hospital wards, he uses it in the home), and a Shopper walking frame (with basket when pottering outside and sometimes when going out), A KAYE walker (which folds in the car and taxi), A flick stick (sort of walking stick but not weight bearing - sometimes used to get through doors) and a 'normal' walking stick - height adjustable to give him that extra bit of leverage getting up (used rarely - as the chair arms and lift chair, and people provide better support). Other days he is largely restricted to electric 'gopher/shoprider, and/or carer assisted wheel chair (he doesn't have the strength to push his own weight) and it gets used when John goes to the football and is amongst crowds of people.

N.B. To get the equipment needed - unless you have an unlimited budget - unfortunately I don't - requires a bit of your 'hunting and gathering' skills. For us some items were purchased second hand, some new, some on E-bay, some through government grants, some hired before purchase was decided.....


Alana - Western Australia

The walker helped to keep my wife steady. It also help me to know that she would be safer.

Definitely get a " rollator" as they have 4 wheels and are better for pwPSP. They are more stable and we found that on smoother surfaces using it with the brakes on actualy stopped it taking off too fast. We found that the zimmer frame someone at the hospital gave mum held her back too much on carpet and she kept abandoning it in an attempt to get about quicker! She also had bad freeze moments with the normal zimmer but never with the rollator. But as someone suggested maybe a choice is good as they vary from day to day. Mum always walked best with 2 people, one each side.

Kathryn in reply to daughterno1

My husband uses a walker without wheels, he found the one with wheels went too quickly for him and increased the risk of falling. It gives him independence as he can move when he wants to. He is very slow, shuffles rather than walks, but the frame is a good aid for him . His was provided by the community physio , as were his other aids.

Because of space restrictions, we had to keep the wheelchair in the hall and use the wheeled commode to take Tony between his room and the hall. He used the walker to balance while I swung the commode out of the way and put the wheelchair in position behind him (with one hand, keeping the other arm to stop Tony falling) - looking back, it's a wonder he didn't fall but he was pretty good at doing what he was told when necessary!)

He also needed it to balance when getting out of bed or chair. I think it made him feel safer.


Hi Eastern Cedar, My wife has had a U-Step multiwheel walker supplied by our Physio. It has been great help and as you walk almost inside it is helps prevent backward falls, She has never had one fall using it downstairs and outside.We tried a 3 wheel walker but she was very insecure with it, in fact she used to pick it up to change direction.

Alas her legs are now not responding without much effort so she will soon be in her wheelchair. Peter.

Hey - Thanks everyone! You've given me a lot of useful information here, but beyond that, it is a great warm comfort to know that you're all out there and willing to help. I appreciate every reply more than I can say.


My husband has just got a u-step from the attainability web site.

He couldn't use a walker / zimmer as it proved dangerous but this u- step is wonderful much more sturdy than the walker just wished we had had it sooner

Thanks to the suggestions for reading provided by the site, I see that my question about using a walker has been asked and answered before, and there is a trove of good advice to be found here. I'm going to ask his doctor about prescribing the u-step, since so many people have recommended it. I especially like the idea that it could help him safely stand up. That's such a dangerous moment - every time.

Hidden in reply to easterncedar

Hi - Yet another reply - but one I hope proves to be useful. I have PSP. I can no longer walk with two sticks. Four wheel Rollators, with a seat, are the way to go. They are more stable than three wheels.

Big wheels enable them to manage rough pavements better. Here is a link to the one I have. It has a seat (really important), and you will see that the back wheels stretch out backwards giving more stability. This means that with a load in the bag up front, it is fairly good to prevent backward falls (my problem). It is also aluminium box section and very light and sturdy.

Normally these are over £200.00, but this company has a job lot going half price!

Here is the home page for their Rollators:

And here is another site I've just found.

Good luck.


PS I use a light aluminium frame, with small front wheels in the house. Standard NHS issue and very good.

PPS My OT really approved of the rollator... e.g. She was very impressed.

easterncedar in reply to Hidden

Thanks, Liz - I especially appreciate the links, because I didn't know what a rollator is. Rough pavement is definitely a consideration for us, so that's a useful tip. Those prices do look good to me (even in pounds!) but I'm going to have to take whatever I get here in the states. Or maybe it's time for another trip to the UK!


Absolutely! a walker is a big help, It took a while before my husband really used it but does use it most of the time now. He's almost ready for a wheel chair now. Have one on loan from the Red Cross while we are waiting for his own to arrive. I was thinking about the weighted walkers last night, hubby took a fall flat on his face (his nose broke the fall...yikes!l), took him to hospital and got his brow glued and steri stripped. It was so strange, he had his walker, stumbled backwards, and some how ended up going forward and never let go of the walker. Trying to catch himself from falling backwards. The falls have been atrocious lately. I'm not sure how many more of these falls I can take, it seems he comes through better than I do! What a concern, I feel like I'm in "high alert mode" all the time, waiting for the next fall to come, hoping it's not too serious.

Alright, more than an answer, yes get a walker, then a wheelchair, when the time comes.


easterncedar in reply to laroux

So far he hasn't had to go to the hospital for a fall, but my guy's poor backside is so badly bruised, it's terrible to see. "High alert mode" - exactly - it's exhausting, isn't it? The collateral damage of this disease. The terror I feel on seeing him go down, trying to catch him, or hearing him fall and running to find him on the floor - sometimes in the wreckage of furniture - is horrible. Well, we're thinning the clutter out, one way or another. The first time I saw him go, long before the diagnosis, we were climbing a smallish mountain, and he caught himself with both hands, face down just inches above a blade-shaped boulder aimed at his sternum. Months later we were roofing a low shed and he was on a five-foot scaffolding and I was on the ground. He just stepped backwards right off the platform and landed briefly on his feet before hitting the ground on his back, with his head about 6 inches from a pile of bricks. He always says "I'm okay! I'm okay!" He doesn't want me to be afraid. But I am. And sometimes I grab him afterwards too hard!!

In my opinion the best walker available is the "U-Step" walker. It is unique because, unlike other walkers, the walker only moves if you squeeze the handles. Normal walkers you have to apply the brakes by squeezing the handles. With the U-Step walker the unit will NOT roll away (down the drive comes to mind) if you let go of the handles because when you let got the brakes automatically apply. It is also sturdier than most walkers. It can be fitted with a laser device that helps the person know where to step. This helps in PD to get the patient to move and not freeze. This unit is expensive but the feature of how the brakes work is excellent. Dementia patients often can't react in enough time to squeeze the handles to stop/brake. Simply letting go of the handles stops the unit.


I do like the sound of that, Jimbo. The brakes being set should help with the most dangerous moments, I imagine. I appreciate your advice so much, and have learned a lot from your other posts on this site. I wish you and your wife as good a holiday as possible. We're hunkered down, waiting for an ice storm, glad to be together.. Easterncedar

Hate to boast but we are in sunny Florida. Green grass and palm trees with flowers blooming in my back yard. Wishing you the best Christmas ever and a good New Year.


Hi, Jim. I'm in Orlando area. Where you live in Florida?

I'm in Orlando area. Getting ready to start a support group for PSP, CBD, and MSA in January. Nothing in Orlando for PSP so I decided to start one. Wife has PSP. I have four interested couples so far to attend in January. Send me your email an I'll fill you in more. Anyone else interested let me know.


We have a U-Step for traveling outside of the house. Downstairs we have a walker with rollers on the front and skiis on the back to get over the carpeted floor.It's been a good 6 weeks and my husband has not fallen once getting to his toilet. He hangs his cane on the stair railing then grabs the walker. He uses a cane upstairs and a walker without wheels as of today, + (he had a leg collapse/cramp on him while running an errand today. If it had happened with just the cane - he would have gone down quickly in the parking lot) He readily agreed to bring up the extra walker.

The U-step doesn't work well in our small space - often needing to step over the U arms of the walker presents a problem in the house.

Our Dr.s are located in the hospital building and we use the valet parking and wheelchair.

Jack stays in the car while I run into the grocery store for quick pickups of bread, milk and bananas. The sticking still happens with the U-Step as it did with the grocery cart, so, I refuse to try and manage a cart and Jack off with the U-Step - LOL!!!!!

I LOVE that he can sort of TURN around with the U-Step.

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