Here's Why Tennis Balls are Unsafe to Use on Walkers

Jay Kudronowicz

When I was presenting my NEW Funski walker glides at the American Physical Therapy Association Combined Section Meeting in San Antonio, TX I was shocked at how many physical therapists stopped by our booth and told me how happy they were that someone finally created a walker glide to replace the tennis ball.

It was at that time that I first really understood the frustration that therapists around the country were having with the temporary unsafe stopgap solution reserved for the grass courts of Wimbledon.  

The feedback received was that the tennis ball was not meant to be cut or drug across concrete/tile surfaces in the way that it is used with the wheeled walker.

The therapists reported frustration that they were often the ones asked to perform the task of cutting the balls for their patients (which is considerably more difficult and dangerous than it looks if you haven’t tried it yourself).

Add to this the fact that the tennis ball’s lifespan on rough surfaces is as little as 8 days and therein lies the basis for the therapists’ frustration.  Not only were they being asked to cut these balls for their patient’s, but they were being asked to do so repeatedly as the balls broke down.

Along with the aforementioned issues, the tennis ball is a magnet for dirt, hair, moisture, and bacteria which are transported from the patient’s outside environment into their homes.

The ease at which the Funski could be cleaned was a major positive feature which I had not even thought during the formation of this design.  

The tennis balls also tend to catch on flooring surfaces as the “felt” surface wears and the rubber covering becomes exposed.  

Dragging this worn rubber surface across concrete, carpet, or tile can affect the walker’s ability to slide effectively and become a falls risk, not to mention the fact that the patient has no indication or warning when this transition from felt to rubber will occur.

The Funski walker glide was created in response to the issues presented with the traditional walker ski (and the fact that it acted as a “hook” to snag oxygen tubing and rugs), never had I imagined that it would also solve the problems of the dreaded tennis ball.  

Because of this, I thank all of the thousands of therapists that stopped by our booth, tested our product, gave us their enthusiastic support, and put Funski walker glides on the map.  

So leave the tennis balls for the clay courts of Roland-Garros and “get your Funski on!”

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