Walking Aids
Rollators, Zimmer Frames, Crutches and Canes

Good quality walking aids will help you get out of bed and get mobile fast.  Learn about the different types available and why one sort might suit you better than another.

"I was really surprised to be told to get out of bed so quickly but I know it was good for me. It stopped me feeling so feeble and gave me a challenge to focus on." Mary Willis - Bristol

Different Types of Walking Aids


As you progress in your recovery you will switch from one type of mobility aid to another. As a general guideline you will normally start off using a walker or Zimmer frame the day after your operation and will shuffle around on that for one or two days. From there you will progress to a pair of crutches - nowadays these should be forearm crutches not underarm ones - and then on to a single crutch and finally a stick.

Don't be concerned if your physical therapist suggests something different. Different types of hip replacements and different patients require different solutions.

In order to prevent accidents you will need to spend time thinking about how you will use these walking aids in your home. Your physical therapist will be there to support you at the start but after that you will be left to manage for yourself and it will be for you to take what you've learned in the physiotherapy session and apply it to your individual living arrangements.

More on: - 

Zimmer Frames, Walkers, Wheeled Walkers and Rollators 
Walking Canes 
Using Crutches

For clarification: the USA and UK have developed different vocabulary to cover walking aids. In the UK a walker is often referred to as a Zimmer frame and a walking stick is the same as what Americans call a cane. In the USA a walking stick is a much longer stick which is held along its length and is not primarily designed to support weight.

Your Safety

  • If the floor is wet it will be slippery - don't try and test it out to see how slippery it is - just avoid it.
  • Make sure your footwear has good grips. Some slippers are very comfy but have no grip at all. I found slipper socks are great.
Jack Russell
  • Make sure your path is clear. If you live with others ask them to help with this. Stepping around and over even minor obstacles can cause accidents. This is particularly important on the stairs.
  • Scatter rugs and loose electric cables are dangerous
  • Pets - not much you can do about them so just be extra cautious. That ecstatic dog rushing to greet you or that slinky cat winding itself around your legs must be treated as potential hazards (however much we love them.)
  • Don't rush - its really not worth risking a fall.
  • When using crutches or a walking frame be sure that the metal buttons are protruding
  • Don't put a pad on the handles - its likely to slip causing you to lose balance and fall.
  • Outdoors is full of trip hazards - broken pavements, ice, wet leaves, wobbly paving stones and of course banana skins! Concentrate.

Care of your equipment

This advise is the same for people using canes, sticks or crutches

Ferrules are the rubber ends on all walkers, frames, crutches, canes and walking sticks. Ferrules help stop the mobility aid from sliding and are crucial to your safety. Regularly check the ferrule has a visible tread and if has worn away replace it. Chemists and shoe repair shops are a good source for ferrules but if you can't find them there check back with your hospital's physiotherapy department.

Check the overall condition of the aid. Are there any chips, cracks or splits? Does the handgrip swivel? Is the metal warped or bent? If so then it's time for some repairs or even a new aid.

Other People

Unless you are driven door-to-door you will inevitably meet people when you go out. When there are just a few about they will normally give you sufficient room. However when it gets crowded they often don't. People with prams and pushchairs often have a hard time negotiating crowds as well and may not realise that you simply can't shift out of their way or they may not be able to see your walking aids.


Where there are crowds there are usually people in a hurry. On top of that simply being in a crowd restricts their view and they may just not see you have mobility difficulties.

If you get into a situation where you feel concerned about being pushed over then simply stop and hold your ground. Let the people go around you - don't try and work your way around them. Slowly make your way towards the side of the pavement furthest from the road and wait for a gap before moving on again. If there's a shop - duck into that for a few minutes to get your breath back. Crowds can be scary.

Having a friend with you is a real help as they can make a path for you but best still is to avoid crowds until you are strong and stable enough to deal with them.

The first day you walk out in the open air after hip surgery is such a great one.

Enjoy it and stay safe.

Buying, Using and Caring for your Walking Aids

This site has at least one page dedicated to every type of walking aid you might need. Each one includes advice on buying, using and caring for that particular aid.

But if you're in a hurry, or already know what you want, then here are my suggested online retailers.

Related Links: 

Preparing for Recovery 
Hip Replacement Products

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