Step 1: Physically Test the Brakes
- On a non-glossy surface (ie. carpet, textured floor) walk with the walker and try activating the brakes. With the brakes activated, put your full weight on the handgrips and try to push the walker forward. If one or more wheels still rotate* the brakes need to be examined.
- Repeat the above process, this time with the brakes in their locked position. If one or more wheels still rotate* the brakes need to be examined. If the brakes won't stay in their locked position the brakes need to be examined.
*If the wheels do not rotate but the walker still moves either the user's weight/force is too little, or the floor surface is the problem. Even fully functional brakes will not completely prevent a walker from sliding forward on a glossy surface, such as polished concrete, glossy tile, or smooth ice - especially if the patient's weight is less than 120 lbs.
Step 2: Examine the Brakes
- If the walker has cables, are both brake cables in good condition? (Example: Securely attached at the handles, not broken, tangled or malformed.) If not these may need to be replaced.
Look at where the brake pad makes contact with the wheel. If the wheels have guards you will need to manipulate the walker to see this properly.
- Is there debris clogging the brake pad mechanism, such as mud, gravel, hair, or other deposits? If so, remove the debris and re-evaluate.
- Is there rust on the brake pad? Walkers used on salty winter sidewalks or in moist environments can develop minor surface rust on their brakes; this can be easily removed with any household rust-remover. Extremely rusty brake pads need to be replaced.
- When the hand brake is activated or locked does the brake pad make firm contact with the wheel? When a brake pad makes only partial or no contact with the wheel the brakes need to be adjusted.
- Is the brake pad in good condition? Over time brakes can wear down or become "mooned"; when this happens they need to be replaced.
Step 3: Examine the Wheels
Is there still tread on the wheels or do they appear worn down?
- Severely worn down wheels can result in reduced contact between the wheel and brake mechanism, even when the brake is applied. In this case the wheel(s) may need replacing.
Repair Costs & Process
- Replacement wheels, brake pads, brake hand controls, brake cables, components of cable-free braking systems, and other associated parts are not covered under manufacturer warranty. The client must pay for these parts in addition to labour fees.
- Healthcare Solutions stocks the majority of these parts.
- Clients are strongly encouraged to bring walkers in to our Southside location on Gateway Blvd for examination and repair to avoid increased wait times and labour costs; a technician is usually available between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Clients with restricted schedules or transportation, and clients who are geographically distant from the Southside location are strongly encouraged to make an appointment with a technician in advance.
- When possible, clients may choose to leave their walker to be repaired at the Southside location and pick up at a later date.