Standing is extremely important for children. It helps promote bone growth, cardiovascular fitness and correct postural development. Assistive devices allow participation in activities - especially important during formative years. Interaction with peers makes for a more accepting society and better mental health in the child with a disability.

There are three main categories of walking assistive devices: canes and crutches, walkers and gait trainers. Consider the following when choosing your assistive device:

  • Does the user have the strength to pick it up and move it forward?
  • Is the walking gait a swing through of both legs or a four-point walk?
  • How much arm mobility (elbow and wrist) does the user have for gripping and applying pressure to braking devices?
  • What environment will the device be used in - indoors or outdoors?
  • Will it be used permanently or occassionally during the day?
  • Can the user weight bear or do they need support?
  • Is the user’s need for assistance likely to increase or decrease.

CANES & CRUTCHES

No more bamboo canes and underarm crutches! Today’s canes are lightweight, height adjustable and folding. From around R75. (Quadrupeds tripods )and with a base of 3 or 4 legs are light-weight, adjustable and more stable than canes. From R150. Modern crutches are lightweight and adjustable, support either underarm or elbow with traditional or soft hand grips. Modern grips can be painful as the user weight bears on them. An alternative is the gutter crutch. From R120.

Verti-Go’s Kowsky Crutch is made from recyclable materials and is super light and robust (tested to 120kg). From R400 per pair. Comfy Grip Crutches’ Comfy Grip matches natural hand contours increasing surface area contact, reducing pressure, pain and upper limb deformities. Recommended for permanent crutch users and priced from R270 per pair.

The SmartCrutch’s ergonomic and adjustable modular design offers comfort and customization. Increased surface area gives a six-fold reduction in pressure and the hourglass-shaped foot maximizes ground contact. Recommended height range: 1,52 to 1,93m. Petite and paediatric are in the pipeline. From R590 per pair.

WALKERS

There are a vast number of walkers from the basic pulpit (with four feet) to ones with wheels, brakes, seats and shopping baskets. Mostly for adults but some ranges cater for children. Folding Pulpit Walker/Rollator Aluminum, lightweight with profiled handgrips, optional front wheels. From R35000

Lower Arm Support Rollator Aluminum, lightweight with profiled handgrips. Padded forearm support. From R400 per pair.

Three Wheel Rollator Sturdy, lightweight, folding walker with basket. Height adjustable handles, hand brakes and contoured grips. Wide solid wheels for all terrains. Optional front wheels. From R600

4-wheel walker with cable brakes This popular walker has a light aluminium frame with pushdown or cable brakes. Seat and basket. Folding. 6kg. From R700.

Heavy Duty 4-wheel walker with brakes, Dependable support plus seat. It has hand brakes and height adjustable handles. Removable tray and basket. Folding. From R800.

The Volaris is durable, lightweight, height adjustable handle and seat with cushioned hand-grips and positive brake locking system. From R2850.

ASSISTIVE WALKERS

Designed to make walking less energy consuming, improve alignment and maximize potential for walking. Clinical studies have demonstrated that posture control walkers facilitate postural alignment, components of gait and balance. Accessories can be added to customise the device to individual needs.

The Kaye Walker for children and adults. Six sizes and folding. Accessories: forearm supports, seat, pelvic stabilisers, all-terrain wheels. Four wheels with optional front swivel wheels. Swivel wheels can be locked in the forward-only direction. Amount of swivel can be limited by adding limiters. From R3000.

The CP Walker provides dissociation of the legs and prevents scissoring. It should only be used by children who can maintain an upright walking pattern with assistance from a therapist or care giver. Moves easily on four large castors. 4 sizes: 3-12 years. From R5500.

Fixi / Fox / Pluto Childrens Rollators allow independent movement whilst providing support from behind to promote natural walking movements and balance. Lightweight, aluminium, height adjustable, smooth airless tyres and dual action brakes. Folding. Fixi - 60-69cm. Weight: 100kg Fox - 69-77cm. Weight: 100kg The Pluto is available in two sizes. From R3900.

GAIT TRAINERS

Designed to improve mobility and assist with activities of daily living gait trainers offer people needing maximum support the option to walk. Regular re-assessments by a professional are required as the user’s walking will improve over time. They offer the ability to have a unique set-up via prompts which can be removed as strength improves.

The Pacer Gait Trainer is comfortable and supportive, for adults or children, providing complex or minimal walking assistance. Easy rear access, users can face either direction, so it can be used as a posterior pediatric walker. Arm rests, seat and chest support prompts mount anywhere along the top bar, for easy removal and adjusting. Height adjusts in 2.5cm increments. Swivel lock, brake, variable drag, and one-way ratchet control. Folding. R9000–R40000.

The R82 Bronco provides excellent support for the chest while keeping the child’s pelvis firmly in place. Adjustable forward-lean allows optional walking angles and imitates the stepping process. Available in three sizes for children aged 18 months to 8 years. Indoor/outdoor use, height adjustable seat, four large wheels with brakes. Accessories include head support system, vertical handles, arm rest, abdominal pad, helpers handle, directional stabiliser, side support and leg protection. R9000 – R40000.

The Omni Stander for prone or supine use is durable for toddlers to adults. Optional quick-release wheels convert it into a self-propelled mobility stander. Adjustable postural supports, handsfree and open-front, gait is centrally guided via a solid, weight relieving bar that moves with the user. Suitability and adjustments should be checked by a clinician. Up to about R36,000.

Jessica Sander has cerebral palsy. “One of the things I’ve never been able to do in my life, is walk backwards, people always had to turn me around, now the gait trainer actually helps me walk backwards and my gluts have to fire in a different direction.”

The Meywalk 2000 includes a handle bar, trunk support, standard rear locks, steel tube frame, solid wheels, spring suspension, adjustable seat made of black water-resistant foam rubber, rims and frontwheel forks in black hard plastic with ball bearings. Suitable for indoor and outdoor. From R8550

The Ormesa Dynamico heavy-duty gait trainer is for those who can bear weight through their legs but need help balancing. Open-back for easier transfers. Removable adjustable height and depth pelvic support and chest support. Height adjustable frame. Lockable swivel wheels. 40kg - 110kg capacity options. Indoor Dynamico (5 sizes), outdoor Dynamico (4 sizes) with large flat-resistant tyres, larger front swivel wheels and handbrakes. Basic model from R7000 to R9000.

The Ormesa Grillo for mild to moderate needs. Foldable, can be used for children with upper trunk support needs, poor weight bearing capabilities, increased tone and scissoring of the legs. Indoor Grillo (4 sizes), outdoor Grillo (3 sizes) with collapsible base, removable height and width adjustable chest support, height, depth and width adjustable removable pelvic support and adjustable handlebar. Basic Grillo from R13000 to R16000.

OTHERS

The Snoekie upright wheeler allows for independent active mobility and weight bearing while standing. Height and tilt adjustable body support, light-weight and easily manoeuvered, quick release aluminium wheels detach for transport. 18 months to 8 years. From R5000.

The Rifton Dynamic Stander (right) makes it easy for kids with no weightbearing ability to develop standing and motor skills. Adjustable seat for users with a fixed flexion contracture at the knee. Two lockable castors, two standard castors plus two large, removable wheels allow for activities at a table. Front or back positioning, communication tray and knee straps. From R35000.

There are so many options that planning, research and consultation with professionals is essential. Price is usually a good indication of quality, but it does pay to shop around. “You get what you pay for” so take the time to consider what your needs are, and then choose the most suitable.

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