Do you or a loved one have a considerably difficult time walking? Then let this best gait trainer guide assist you or that loved one to move a little easier. If unable to walk and in a wheelchair, there may be several reasons, such as having some type of disease, injury, stroke, or many other neurological or orthopaedic, gait, and balance rehabilitation issues. It can be very frustrating and stressful to have lost the ability to walk. I can relate to feeling this way since I have had spinal cord nerve pressure problems that have caused my legs to get so weak that I cannot walk more than a few steps or stand for more than a few minutes.
I recently went through physical therapy with the hope of strengthening my legs but they told me that I would not be able to accomplish what I had hoped to because my pain level was too high due to a hip needing to be replaced. You would think they could have given me stronger pain relievers if that was the case so I feel that it was just a way to cover up the fact that they did not have all the right equipment. If they would have had a gait trainer, the outcome could have been different.
I was not familiar with gait trainers when I did the recent physical therapy sessions so doing research on how they may be able to help me has been very encouraging to me. I am now on a quest to find a physical therapy facility that uses gait trainers. Or perhaps I could find somewhere I could buy a used one that I may be able to afford. If you are looking for something to help get you or your loved one up and walking again, do not give up! Find a physical therapist that has a gait trainer. This may mean that you will have to travel a distance to find a physical therapy facility that uses gait trainers but it would be worthwhile or you could purchase one for at home. If you are as I was and do not know what a gait trainer is or just want to know more about them, you are going to enjoy reading this Best Gait Trainer Guide of 2017.
What is a Gait Trainer?
First, what is a gait? It is not the word ‘gate’ that has been misspelled! Gait is the way you move when walking and when you have an abnormal gait, the walking ability is diminished anywhere from slight to severe. Usually, your gait can be evaluated by a medical doctor or a chiropractor by simply watching you walk for a few minutes. When you have poor or abnormal gait, it can put you at risk of injury from tripping and falling or repetitive stress damage due to putting stress on the wrong muscles. Abnormal gait is not unusual and it can be caused by more than 50 diseases or conditions with the most common being arthritis.
The gait trainer, as detailed by this best gait trainer guide, is a special needs product usually recommended as part of physical therapy to help improve a patient’s stability, make walking less energy consuming, and to maximize the potential for walking normally and to have better balance. They are also called gait walkers or gait harness systems (GHS), which have been used since the 1980s to help individuals to walk for the first time after months, years, or even decades of not walking and some believing they would never walk again.
A gait trainer is a wheeled device with a durable frame, usually rising from the floor to the patient’s lower or middle torso with handles or some type of a support harness to help the patient stand upright. They are similar to wheeled walkers as they roll along with the patient so that he/she can practice walking in a natural way allowing the patient to develop muscular strength and motor control that is needed to walk independently. Gait trainers come in different sizes that are adjustable so that both children and adults are able to use them.
Reviews of Gait Trainers
This is your guide to finding the best adult or child gait trainer for you or your loved one by describing and reviewing five different models available.
Wenzelite Luminator Gait Trainer with Posterior or Anterior Option, Red, Adult
The Luminator Anterior gait trainer is made for assisting patients who are not able to walk or for patients who cannot independently use a walker. When using the Luminator, the body posture and natural gait pattern are supported, plus cognitive and learning development are encouraged. They also strengthen and condition cardiopulmonary function, reduce flexion contractures that are the cause of legs not being straight, as well as helping with spatial awareness and head control all at the same time as teaching the patient to walk. The Luminator has a seat harness that supports the patients who cannot stand completely on their own and the pelvic stabilizer goes under the patient to support the pelvis. The posterior model has alternate handgrip positioning and one-directional real wheels. The dimensions are 27 inches wide by 26.5 inches long by 29 inches high. It weighs 29 pounds and has a weight capacity of 400 pounds. The inside hand grip width is 21 inches with the base depth of 27 inches and base width at 26.5 inches. The handle height is adjustable in one-inch increments from 29 inches to 36 inches.
- Seat harness supports patients who cannot stand completely on their own; Pelvic stabilizer supports and stabilizes the pelvis
- Positioning bar provides adjustable depth
- Vertical handgrips provide alternate handgrip position
- Variable resistance tabs control the speed of the gait trainer and aligns an asymmetrical gait pattern
- One-directional rear wheels allow only forward mobility; Swivel wheel locking bracket provides option to lock swivel wheels
Trekker Gait Trainer – Junior Trekker, Size 2, Green
This Trekker youth and junior gait trainer can be used by a child with a waist measurement up to 32 inches. The Trekker is height adjustable in one-inch increments so it can grow with the child. It can be used in the anterior or posterior position. The wheels can be swivel or non-swivel. The casters are directional to allow for either forward or reverse mobility or only forward mobility. Safety features include brakes that can lock the casters and prevent the unit from moving at all. Another great feature is that the accessories can be attached to the frame without needing tools and can be removed or added according to the needs and abilities of the young person.
- This Listing Is For Junior Trekker
- QTY.1 Each
- Size: 2
- Color: Green
- Height adjustable in 1" increments
Fabrication Enterprises Comet/Star Gait Trainer (Adult)
This adult gait trainer has a 400-pound weight capacity and weighs 28 pounds. It has adjustable height with ankle prompts that prevent the legs from scissoring. It has a seat harness to support the patient who cannot stand completely on their own. It has a pelvic stabilizer and a positioning bar that provides adjustable depth. It has variable resistance tabs to control how fast it moves and aligns an asymmetrical gait pattern. The one-directional rear wheels allow for only forward mobility on posterior models only. The swivel wheel-locking bracket allows for optional locking of the wheels. The dimensions of this gait trainer are 26-1/2 inches wide by 27 inches deep by an adjustable 29 to 36 inches high and a 21-inch internal width.
Wenzelite Trekker Gait Trainer, Youth, Blue, Model TK3000
This youth Trekker Gait Trainer has the advantage of being able to be used in either posterior or anterior position. Depending on the needs of the user, it has a directional lever that allows forward and reverse or only forward mobility. It has swivel casters that can be locked to non-swivel and brakes that lock to prevent the unit from moving. The variable resistance controls the speed of the rotation of the wheels. The height can be adjusted in one-inch increments and folded easily. Accessories can be mounted without the need of tools onto the frame and can be removed or added when needed. The weight capacity is only 200 pounds but is for youths or children only. The actual product weight is 20 pounds with an adjustable height of 29 to 39 inches, maximum handle height is 39 inches with a minimum of 29 inches. The inside hand grip width is 18 inches and overall dimensions are 29 inches high by 38 inches long by 27.5 inches wide.
- Height adjustable in 1" increments . Can be used in the anterior and posterior position .
- Brakes lock the wheels to prevent the unit from moving . Directional lever allows both forward and reverse mobility or only forward mobility .
- Accessories mount tool-free onto the frame and can be removed or added according to the individual user's needs and abilities
- Variable resistance to control the speed of the wheel's rotation .
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Skillbuilders 31-3682 Star Posterior Gait Trainer, Adult, Large 26.5 x 36 Inch
The Skillbuilders 31-3682 is a posterior (pull) trainer that is height adjustable. A great advantage for this gait trainer is that it folds up for convenient storage and transport. The speed and direction can be controlled with the variable resistance tabs, swivel wheel locking brackets, and the one-directional rear wheel. Standard features included are ankle prompts, seat harness, vertical handgrips, pelvic stabilizer, and a posterior positioning bar for adjustable depth. The 31-3682 weighs 30 pounds when assembled.
- Seat harness supports patients who cannot stand completely on their own
- Ankle prompts prevent legs from scissoring; Pelvic stabilizer supports and stabilizes the pelvis
- Positioning bar provides adjustable depth
Gait Trainer Accessories
Most gait trainers have accessories that come in different sizes to make certain that parts of the gait trainer will fit the user. Listed below in this best gait trainer guide are some accessories for the gait trainers listed above that may need to be purchased separately and are worth describing for you.
Wenzelite Forearm Platforms for all Wenzelite Posterior and Anterior Safety Roller and Gait Trainers
This forearm platform is made by Wenzelite and can be mounted anywhere along the handlebar of any Wenzelite gait trainer according to the user’s weight bearing needs. The handgrips are angle adjustable and able to move forward, backward, up, or down and made of lightweight aluminum. Each side is height and depth adjustable. For added comfort, the armrests are molded into one piece with a flexible edge, plus there are hook-and-loop straps to prevent arms from slipping.
- Handgrips extend forward or backward, supinate, pronate, and are angle adjustable
- May be mounted anywhere along the handlebar, including the front; Position is determined by patient's weight bearing needs
- Height and depth adjustable; Each side is individually adjustable
- Lightweight aluminum
- Contoured armrest is molded into one piece with a flexible edge for added comfort; hook-and-loop straps prevent arms from slipping
Mckesson Gait Trainer, Accessory, Forearm Platform Set with Mount
This gait trainer platform set with mount is an accessory made by Fabrication Enterprises and is to be attached to a child’s gait trainer to support the forearms of the child as well as having vertical hand grips to hold. Dimensions are 15 inches long by 9.5 inches wide by 5 inches high. Be sure to measure the child’s arms to make sure the forearm platform will be a good fit.
Drive Medical Pelvic Stabilizer for Wenzelite Nimbo Posterior Walker
This pelvic stabilizer is an accessory to be attached to the Drive Medical Nimbo Walkers. Adjustments in height and width can be done without tools. It has back and lateral padding with an adjustable belt all in black. This stabilizer is recommended for users with asymmetrical posture and cannot stay centered when standing and walking in the gait trainer.
- Drive Medical Design and Manufacturing is a major manufacturer and distributor of durable medical equipment in the home healthcare, medical, surgical and rehabilitation markets.
- Tool-free height and width adjustments|Back and lateral padding|Adjustable belt
- Actual Product Weight: 2.5 ; Overall Product Height: 5"; Overall Product Length: 9"; Overall Product Width: 7"; Primary Product Color: Black; Primary Product Material: Steel
- The pelvic stabilizer is the ideal solution for Wenzelite Nimbo walker users who have an asymmetrical posture when standing and walking, which prevents them from staying centered in the walker. The stabilizer provides comfortable back and lateral pads and is width adjustable.
Drive Medical Trekker Gait Trainer Trunk Support, Large TK1080L
This gait trainer trunk support accessory by Drive Medical is made of nylon and ensures comfort for the user while it is adjustable in height, depth, and angle. The padded cushion support stays open for transfers that are easy and safe. This trunk support should be mounted toward the inside or outside of the handlebars and the adjustable straps secure the fit and angle of the user. It can also be used as a pelvic positioned in the low position. Dimensions are 8.9 inches in height, 19.1 inches in length, 15.7 inches wide. It comes in the color of black only.
- Actual_Product_Weight - 1.13 lbs
- Overall_Product_Height - 8.9"
- Overall_Product_Length - 19.1"
- Overall_Product_Width - 15.7"
- Primary_Product_Color - Black
Other Brands of Gait Trainers
Second Step Gait Harness System and Gait Harness System II
The Second Step Gait Harness System (GHS) is commercial grade equipment that is registered with the FDA and handmade in the USA. Both models are complete transitional care systems to be used by physical therapist practitioners or for home use and are for anyone needing to stand and walk again over-ground. The Gait Harness System II with multi-directional caster base for home users can have a choice of double wide or standard forearm support top with a custom-made gait harness for adults of all sizes. It features shipping the fully assembled gait harness that can be used immediately. The Gait Harness System II hand hold set is an accessory sold separately that has two size options for double wide or standard forearm support tops for either practitioners or home users. It can be attached anywhere on the inside or outside of the forearm support top frame and is adjustable to fit the user’s comfort and unique needs.
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Rifton E-Pacer Gait Trainer
The E-Pacer is an exciting new addition by Rifton that has an electrical lift to transfer the user from sitting to standing, which eliminates the caregiver’s need to lift the user and cuts down on injuries to caregivers. The E-Pacer has a strong and rigid frame that gives security for heavier or taller users and can accommodate users up to 6’5” tall and 350 pounds. This can be a life-changing solution for users who have become too large or too dependent to be safely transferred manually to a gait trainer. The legs are expandable allowing the user more room or for getting close to a chair or wheelchair for transferring the user.
The E-Pacer has a built-in Bluetooth-equipped scale with a mobile app to weigh the user and track weight-bearing progress. It also has an odometer to record how far the user walks. The E-Pacer has a body support that is innovative as it secures the user with a single buckle, which allows the caregiver to quickly prepare the user for gait training. Some of the accessories are a hip positioned to enable natural pelvic movement and weight-shifting, plus a pad is available for extra comfort. Pelvic support comes in three sizes and helps with transferring and fall prevention. Also available are wide or narrow thigh straps for seated transfers, adjustable ankle prompts to prevent scissoring, a removable back belt, and an accessories tote bag.
- Large arm prompt set
- Large chest prompt
- Large pelvic support with handholds
- Large thigh prompt set
Rifton Mobile Stander
The Mobile Stander makes it easy for individuals with special needs to be able to stand even if they have no weight-bearing ability. It can help wheelchair-bound users to strengthen motor skills with the possibility of progressing to being able to stand independently. The Mobile Stander has removable large wheels that the user can self-propel in a standing position. If the large wheels are removed, several options are opened up as it rolls up to a table or counter giving the user the ability to take part in crafts, cooking, computing, or eating a meal with others.
With the large wheels in place, the Mobile Stander becomes a vehicle for independent movement and can be used to self-propel to encourage weight shifting, the range of motion, improved strength, balance and righting responses. It can be used on outside and has locks on the wheels that can be reached by children. It even gives children the opportunity to participate in games and sports. In time, children that use the Mobile stander can gain weight bearing strength and be able to use a gait training device and progress toward independent standing.
The Mobile Stander is more than an upright wheelchair. It can improve standing ability and all the benefits of mobility. Some benefits of standing include improved bone density, stretching of tight muscles in hips, knees, and ankles; improved function of the pulmonary, respiratory, and digestive systems. It has body support in a slightly forward-leaning position that is adjustable and a seat pad available in two sizes that can be angled in various ways. There is also knee straps and arm prompts that are adjustable.
There are several therapeutic benefits to using the Mobile Stander. It promotes upright interaction enabling users with conditions such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, leg amputation, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord injury to become mobile while safely supported in an upright position while being at the eye level of peers encouraging social interactions. It also improves weight-shifting, weight-bearing, and trunk control. When the user self-propels in the Mobile Stander, the benefits are increased strength, postural control, tone reduction, density of bone mineral, musculoskeletal development, and pulmonary function. The Mobile Stander is designed for children and adolescents from 25 inches to 65 inches tall, from 50 to 175 pounds, and is available in five sizes.
How to Find the Right Gait Trainer?
Finding the right gait trainer for you or a loved one could be a challenge without the assistance of someone who knows about them such as physical therapist who has had experience with them. In determining what type is best, you need to take into consideration the patient’s strength, size, age, cognitive development, spatial awareness, head control, cardiopulmonary condition, and walking ability. Gait trainers offer different levels of support and accessories. Most gait trainers come with accessories that can be added or removed without the use of tools, which are the best kind to have but you should measure the parts of the body that the accessory will be supporting to make sure it will fit you or your loved one. Some accessories are adjustable.
The patient’s condition is quite important when fitting a gait trainer due to such things as excessive spastic movements common with diseases such as Parkinson’s or other conditions that would have an impact on how it fits around the patient. Most gait trainers have different accessories to help with different aspects of the patients’ body such as weight, height, strength, motor skills, leg flexion, balance, etc.
When considering a gait trainer for home use, you need to measure your doorways to make sure the gait trainer can move from room to room. You also need to consider what type of flooring you have and the weight of the gait walker. If you need to pick up the gait trainer to carry up or down steps you would probably want a light weight gait trainer. Make sure you have somewhere you can store it when not in use so that it is out of the way. If the gait trainer is for a child or youth who will be taking it to school, check on what type of terrain the user needs to travel over. If it is grassy lawns and concrete, it would be best to have larger pneumatic wheels. If being used mainly inside on smooth floors, the solid smaller wheels would work best. If the gait trainer is being used by an adult or younger person who is on the go independently, it would be good to consider a gait trainer with swivel wheel locks, anti-reverse mechanisms, or a fold-down seat to rest while walking long distances.
When using the gait trainer is for a child, it is important that there is plenty of room to grow built in and that you take measurements to make sure the gait trainer is a good fit currently. The measurements to take would be from the floor to hip height for the handle height, from the floor to elbow height for the forearm support, and check that the weight is within the weight capacity. Also, check what accessories may be needed for the arms, pelvis, trunk of body, knees and feet. You may also look at getting a guide bar to help encourage a child who is just learning to use the gait trainer. There are accessories especially made for children such as suspension conversion harnesses and kits to consider.
The best way to find a gait trainer for you or your loved one is to discuss with the physician or therapist which type would be the most suitable for the condition of you or your loved one. You could also try them out at a physical therapy clinic or a medical equipment dealer. You or your loved one should ask the doctor where would be the best place to go to try them out. Some insurance companies will help pay for a gait trainer, however, if they do not, you may be able to make payment arrangements from where you buy the equipment.
Why is a Gait Trainer Needed?
An adult may need a gait trainer if they have suffered mobility loss due to injury or illness in order to learn how to walk independently again, to gain better balance, and to bear weight in a safe position. Our bodies are designed to be upright from the first year of life and hip alignment occurs as we learn to walk. Being upright and standing prevents contractures and it improves range of motion so if we don’t have weight bearing that can cause bone mineral density loss, which can result in osteoporosis and fractures.
Children can find a gait trainer especially valuable if they have congenital defects or other health conditions that interfere with the normal development of mobility and motor skills such as cerebral palsy, childhood muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, or congenital deformities. If a child with mobility issues can have the use of a gait trainer at an early age, they may be able to prevent walking problems so the child can grow up like a normal child able to walk, run and play.
Some may think that a child will walk with the aid of a regular child’s walker in which the child supports themselves with their arms; however, a gait trainer provides greater support, especially when a child cannot hold onto a walker. Gait trainers are usually larger and sturdier than walkers. There are many options available with gait trainers depending on the needs and prognosis of the child. Consideration needs to be paid to if the child needs a trunk or head support, what kind of pelvic support is needed, how the child will hold onto the gait trainer, the leg positioning, and what angle is needed to help in stepping. The gait trainer can be adjusted for all considerations so that the child is as comfortable as possible and will be more willing to put forth the effort to learn how to walk.
Other therapeutic benefits of gait training are improved cognition, muscle development, skeletal growth and increased bone density, as well as social development and integration. Children learn from being able to move around as they grow in their first year of life and if that growth is stunted by disease or other problems, many things besides mobility suffer. Babies with developmental delays or severe physical motor impairments won’t get to explore, interact or learn skills in socialization, processing, and problem solving. Unfortunately, even cognitive and language skills can be delayed. It is very important to give these children a chance to develop normally by using a gait trainer as early as nine months old.
Once a child is moving at eye level with their peers, they can participate in a variety of activities including eating, exploration, problem solving, social interaction, fine motor skills, and play. Early mobility can also help children with better gastrointestinal and cardiopulmonary systems, the promotion of joint and bone development, better visual awareness, as well as improved psychological aspects. A gait trainer not only promotes upright position to improve functionality but promotes learning and development so the child is prepared for preschool and then kindergarten by five years of age.
Adults may have gait abnormalities caused by muscle weakness from long periods of inactivity or neuromuscular diseases such as muscular dystrophy. A gait trainer can be used by patients that need to learn to walk again after an injury, surgery, or stroke, or as in my case, when affected by a disease that damage bone and joints in the hips, knees, and ankles such as osteoarthritis. It can also be helpful for patients with injuries or disorders that affect the nervous system and interfere with motor control or sensation such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, stroke, or other trauma to the nervous system.
A total independence in walking may not be achieved in all cases but significant improvements can be made in muscle strength, balance, and motor control. When someone is confined to a wheelchair, they will usually welcome any amount of improvement. I feel it would be well worth trying by using a gait trainer for a period of time to see if it helps my walking abilities. Even if it is helps just a little bit, it would be well worth the time and effort.
How is a Gait Trainer Used (Best Gait Trainer Guide)?
Gait trainers are usually used during physical therapy sessions for adult rehabilitation. It is traditionally used within parallel bars for stability and then as walking improves, a patient can progress to a walker, crutches, bilateral canes or a single cane. More recent therapies involve body-weight support gait training such as over a treadmill or with a ceiling track, which can enable considerably more walking practice with less strain to the therapist and for the patient to walk safely with less effort. This increases the potential for motor skills to be strengthened and for the patient to regain walking ability.
One disadvantage of gait training is the high staffing costs involved making many physical therapy facilities not able to afford them. There have even been robot-assisted gait trainers designed that have the ability to guide the lower extremities while the patient is supported, and they were as effective as body weight treadmill training; however, these devices are very expensive to the point of being unrealistic in a clinical or practitioner setting.
Another gait trainer is the over the ground type that are typically more affordable than the body-weight support systems and they offer additional walking practice beyond the physical therapy sessions. They can be used in the patient’s home, an institution, or the community. The over the ground gait trainer is a closer replication of actually walking and enables the patient to learn how to generate and control motor forces in ways that are not available with the treadmill trainer. This can result in greater improvements as compared to the body-weight support type.
In my opinion, the best gait trainer would be the over the ground type that can be used at home. Of the ones that can be used at home, the best kind would be one with a directional lever that allows forward and reverse mobility, especially for someone who can control which direction to go on their own. However, it is important to keep in mind that not only do youths or children need to have someone close by for safety, but also an adult should be supervised in case they need assistance.
It is also my opinion that out of all the devices for children or youths, the Rifton Mobile Stander is the most outstanding. It is very versatile due to having wheels that you can remove in order to sit at a table or desk. All the benefits are also impressive such as improved bone density, stretching of tight muscles in hips, knees, and ankles; the improved function of the pulmonary, respiratory, and digestive systems. If they had one for adults, I would be very interested. I am going to have to write to the manufacturer and ask if they plan on making a Mobile Stander for adults.
I hope this Best Gait Trainer Guide of 2017 will help you find what is best for you or your loved one. With the use of the right gait trainer, independence could be just a few steps away. May you or your loved one be blessed with an improved gait and many happy steps.