There are a ton of walking aids on the market but providing mobility aids for special needs children can seem confusing, if not seemingly impossible what with all the options available. Helping your child be mobile and independent is a parent’s dream and the use of pediatric gait trainers instead of a walker for kids is a great place to start. This type of mobility aid can get your child headed down the path to independent mobility and although they can be used by patients of all ages, mainly they are used by children.
For those looking for a mobility aid that can achieve the goal of independent mobility, a gait trainer may be the appropriate piece of equipment. So what is it? While it may seem similar to a walker, a gait trainer is a mobility aid that stabilizes walkers while supporting their weight. The design of this type of mobility aid is specifically for non-weight bearing or partial weight bearing users. Often this aid is referred to as adaptive walkers as well as gait trainer walkers. This type of medical equipment can be used by those suffering from temporary/permanent mobility issues as well as cognitive or developmental issues like spina bifida, cerebral palsy, or other physical impairments to their ambulation.
At first sight a gait trainer and a walker may seem like the same piece of equipment making your decision more confusing. Au contraire!! Gait trainers do have subtle but vital differences to walkers. Differences are:
To make things more confusing, technically walkers that include more support add-ons, such as seats, forearm supports, or hip positioners, can technically be gait trainers. Great, huh? Adding to the confusion of choosing a pediatric gait trainer, different types include:
This type of gait trainer walker is placed in front of the child using it, allowing them to push the gait trainer forward while dispersing their weight ahead/through their arms. These traditional gait trainers have pros and cons to them that include:
|Easier to propel forward, preferred style for initial gait training, good support for children who need to lean forward, and offers more functional support than walkers for kids.||May lead to a crouching gait, can result in higher flex positioning, and requires more effort than a posterior style.|
Placed behind the user, this gait trainer (a.k.a. reverse gait trainers) requires the user to pull the trainer forward with them and may need a little bit of a learning curve to become proficient. These can help optimize step length and require a little less effort and more upright positioning. Some pros and cons are:
|Better for advanced training, encourages a more upright position, and reduces flexion angles in the knee, hip, and trunk while being easier to use.||Can be harder to transfer to/from, requires more training for proficiency, and those with more impairment may require more support.|
These use a harness system to support the user as they walk or stand. They can also be used in conjunction with hoists to lift the user into a standing position and can offer more support for those with more in-depth mobility issues. If you’re looking for a gait trainer for cerebral palsy, this might be your option. The harness system can help prevent falls but can also be overused during training even when the child isn’t tired.
|It offers better support for those with immobility issues.||These are often large and heavy.|
|The harness system reduces the chances of falls.||Can be expensive as compared to other gait trainers.|
For those aged 2-3 who are not walking unassisted, this toddlers trainer is engineered for the very young and are available in both anterior and posterior options. They help optimize stride, alignment, cadence, and leg muscle strength. This can help with gross motor skills such as balance, coordination, endurance, and posture.
|Can help children develop muscle strength and coordination.||May require regular maintenance.|
|Some gait trainers can be adapted or modified for long-term use.||Can be expensive.|
Many pediatric gait trainers offer add-ons that allow you to customize your gait trainer walker to your child’s needs. Not only can this maximize stabilization but supports for the ankles, forearms, pelvis or hips, and trunk assistance can help children practice safe walking and proper posture.
|Easy to customize to suit specific needs||Customization may reduce portability of the device.|
|Improves safety and reduces the risk of accidents and injury||These may have a steeper learning curve for caregiver and the user.|
What child doesn’t like being outside? These gait trainers are made from materials that won’t rust/corrode and are durable in any weather. Not only can they move over even terrain but can traverse curbs, and rough or uneven terrain. Outdoor gait trainers can also be used indoors, increasing their versatility.
|Comes with rugged wheels or tires to help navigate various outdoor surfaces||May be bulkier and heavier than traditional indoor mobility aids|
|Improves sense of independence and freedom||May be susceptible to weather conditions|
Yes, finding the right pediatric gait trainer for your child can seem tough. Work with your child’s therapist to define which features are right for them and be confident that the option is out there. Gait trainers and walkers for kids are plentiful so be sure to ask questions when choosing the proper model and style.
HPFY has been your health and wellness partner since 2002. We offer an array of mobility aids including pediatric gait trainers. Explore our catalog today to find the best pick for your loved one.
Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.
Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.
In 2006, ...
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