Veterans Affairs

Self-leveling walker

Stair capable assist feature greatly expands the utility of the common design

Medical & Biotechnology


Walkers, comprising light-weight tubular frames which form pairs of opposed legs joined in parallel spaced relation are in widespread use to assist those in need of support to better maintain stability and balance while walking or standing. A user stands between the leg pairs and grips the tubular frame, placing weight on the legs while standing or pushing the walker while walking. Conventional walkers are suited for traversing level ground and have legs of substantially equal length. However, when climbing stairs, a curb or an incline such walkers cannot provide reliable support to the user, who is thus vulnerable to injury from a fall due to loss of balance.

A solution to the above issues comes from researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs who have designed and built a walker that adjusts to a variable stair or curb height at the direction of the user. A cable and pulley system, completely enclosed within the tubular frame is actuated by thumb lever and controls the telescoping legs. The design has been prototyped and extensively tested at the VA.

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