Tuesday, March 6, 2012

PVC pipe walker

They say necessity is the mother of invention. I've wanted a walker for Asa for a while now. It's tricky though because technically he can't use a walker. Well, he can but he won't. He will walk while he holds your fingers all day long but the second you try to release him and let him hold onto something vs something holding him, he panics. Plus he gets so tired. And he already has a gait trainer which is technically a walker but bigger. I needed something light weight but that would go on outdoor surfaces. Asa is highly motivated by the outdoors!

So after some googling I found a video of a mom who built a walker from PVC pipe. I did not use her direct plan but she spurred me into action! Last Friday morning Barry and I got busy. I drew my plan out on the back of a envelope, gathered supplies and rewatched the video. I perfected the measurements using the gait trainer settings Asa is most comfortable with. After I measured and marked the pipe Barry did the cutting. He's just so much faster than me. Besides I was busy "documenting" the whole thing just for y'all! You're welcome!

The framing was very easy once I had the measurements. We couldn't decide on wheels. And truthfully, I was too cheap to buy any wheels! I thought 4 swivel wheels might feel too loosey, goosey for Asa. We had end caps for the pipe so decided to try them on the back.

We also had some small swivel wheels laying around so we tried them out on the front. This plan worked well inside but like I said before, Asa is highly motivated by working outside! I give you 2 guesses as to the end result of Asa pushing this set up outside! Give up? Ok, I'll tell you....the front wheels hung up on the boards and the forward placed handles just flipped Asa straight on his face! Thankfully I was right in front of him videoing so I grabbed him and lowered him down instead of a belly flop. And yes, Barry was saying the whole time that those wheels and the handles so far forward was a bad plan. He also knows I'm too stubborn to be deterred until I learn myself. He's a patient man!

After some final tweaking we came up with a pretty good walker! I will probably swap out the handles for the ones that have the forearm prompts and upward facing handles. They give him more support. The new wheels are awesome though. We found them on an old toy wagon that had been discarded by my much too big kids long ago! We also scooted the handles back to the middle like Barry suggested the first time.

And there is some video of him in action but usually by the time I coax him enough to move, then get the camera on, well, he is done and so over the whole business! Most videos are of him just standing there crying at me. After school today we did do a lot of walking! I had to keep one hand over his on the handle....not holding him just keeping my hand over his. I also had to give a little push to keep him moving and not panicking. He also does better when I count it off! I noticed him listening to the water aerobics instructor counting while he takes Aquatherapy so I count things down when he seems stuck. It usually works pretty well. I'm thinking we need to cover it in the flames patterned Duck Tape for the walker and then call this one done!

In all this was seriously less than $10! My Dad had the pipe but it was less than $4 at Lowes. We bought new fittings. The 2 elbows were .33 each, the 3 prong elbows were a whopping 1.30 each. We bought new glue too.....my boy deserves the finest! The wheels were salvaged but the screws we found were too short so we bummed longer ones from my dad too. I'm pretty sure we could have done it for free just by scavaging in my daddy's stuff! :)

I know Asa can do this! We set the bar high for school and he blew my mind. We've pushed his limits sensory wise and he's passed my expectations. I just know he can do this too. He just needs consistent practice and now he can get it while we decide which walker would be perfect for his needs! And as soon as I get a pic of a happy, smiling Asa using the walker, I'll post that too!


Rose-Marie said...

This is awesome, Kim! Don't you just LOVE PVC? It falls into the same can't-live-without-it category as Velcro and duct tape. I really like the big outdoor wheels...what a gift of freedom for Asa. I bet he DOES get a big smile on his face!!!

Your husband is so crafty. Mine is as well and built a PVC gait trainer for our daughter (that was 14 yrs ago--whew!), suspending a seat from a baby jumper in the frame. Pretty cool!

RaeLeah Jenis said...

That is a very do-able solution. I will have to keep this in mind when we get to this stage. I'm constantly making things for Rae in an effort to meet whatever need is presented at the time. Right now we're trying to figure out how we can go on bike rides since she can't use traditional bike seats or trailers.

Anonymous said...

Could you email some directions oor helpful hints or the link for video youu found. I am a nurse caring for a now 21 year old boy who suffered a traumatic brain injury and cannot get insurance to pay for a gait trainer/adult walker. He is doing so well in his recovery but his mom is a widow who barelly gets by financially. I would greatly apppreciate any info you could give me on building one of these out of PVC...like if their is a certain type or size of PVC that should be used. He is 6'1" and 183#. My email is mzgeniac@yahoo.com

Mhollow said...

I have a son who has brain cancer and I am looking for a gait trainer but I don't want to pay the prices they sell them for! We have a stander but I want and I think that if given a change he could/would walk a little. My plan is to use this idea to make my son a lightweight gait trainer with a seat because he can not stand on his own. I want him to be able to play outside!