Introduction: Walker Life Hack: Ergonomic Handle Improvement
After a hip replacement, I was non weight bearing on the operated side for 6 weeks. I was using both a plain old rental walker and super awesome ergonomic crutches (mobilegs.com). As I had to put full weight on my hands, the walker was killing me. I came up with this temporary modification that helps immensely. Knowing how many people out there use walkers, I decided to share this idea.
Step 1: Materials
Basic Walker with hard plastic handles
Gorilla Tape (I used wide roll)
Stretchy "Exercise Band" (usually sent home in multiples from prior physical therapy sessions--they cut this off of big rolls).
Gel Heel Cups (Dr. Scholls or similar from foot care section of drugstore. Mine were used and gross, but still good). These are meant to bear foot weight. They are a good size and also taper perfectly from the thickest "back" to a very thin "front." Buy the nicest ones that you can.
Step 2: Cut Therapy Band and Gorilla Tape
You will be using the band and tape to attach the gel cup. If one person is doing this, it is a kind of "hold in place with one hand and tape with the other" process. Cut two pieces of band, about 8 inches each. Tear or cut two 10 inch pieces of wide gorilla tape and tear down the middle. Stick to edge of table so that it is hanging there ready to grab.
Step 3: Position the Gel Cups
This is best done with a bit of trial and error, preferably with the user of the walker present.
I put my hand in my ergonomic crutch handle to determine the best position for the padding/bulge. The ergonomic handle seemed to place the bulge just inside the heel of my thumb, just about between the thumb and index fingers while gripping. The grip on the crutches aims the whole hand downward a bit. As I said, this was important for full weight bearing. If the user bears less weight, the grip could be different.
The hard plastic handle of the walker has a bulge in its shape. I placed the gel cup at the part of this bulge closest to the user, and with the thick heel side just over the crest toward the center of the walker. Heel cup is face down: the part that would be against the foot is against the handle.
I did experience movement of the apparatus with use: I was usually able to slide the whole thing back into place, but once had to undo/redo one of the handles. I had avoided taping to the surface of the walker itself since it was a rental, instead using the tape only to cinch the therapy band. Taping directly to the walker might avoid this problem
Step 4: Wrap Band Over Gel Cup
Hold the cup in desired position. Wrap band while stretching it. Try to position ends under handle so that they won't contact the hand. You may need to cut the band a bit.
Step 5: Tape Band
Wrap Gorilla Tape tightly on either side of the cup, cinching the band. Then tape edge of band down.
If you own the walker (or don't mind getting the tape and residue off before returning rental), you might also tape:
1. The cup to the handle with a small piece on the underside of the handle to avoid contact with gripping hand.
2. The edges of the band directly to the walker.
Step 6: Test Use
Of course, you would rather have gotten the positioning from testing before taping, but be willing to take everything apart if the end result doesn't feel right to the user. Be sure to save the rest of the therapy band. I had used the thickest one I possessed, and when I did one over again, it didn't tear with tape removal, although I had expected it to do so. Thinner bands might tear more easily.
Again, with time, readjustments might be necessary. Be sure to advise your user to call for your help rather than keep using an uncomfortable grip.