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How to make tennis balls on a walker take a licking and keep on ticking?
May 29, 2009 10:36 PM   Subscribe

How to I stop tennis balls on a walker from wearing out so darn quickly?

I work in a group home for people who have a variety of handicaps. One of my little lovelies is amublatory with the help of a walker. The problem is the tennis balls on the back are wearing completely through within a week.

The budgets are tight and we are looking for clever ideas to make the balls last just a bit longer. Any ideas you ultra smarties?
posted by Syllables to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
The walker rolls on tennis-ball bearings?
posted by grobstein at 10:41 PM on May 29, 2009


How about if you wrap the outside of each tennis ball in Tyvek (from mailing envelopes), canvas, or some sort of durable synthetic cloth like polyester and staple the edges?
posted by XMLicious at 10:52 PM on May 29, 2009


No - tennis balls are placed on the feet of walkers - like this.
posted by item at 10:53 PM on May 29, 2009


The (deflated/cut) tennis balls are on the legs of the walker to "protect" the floors of the facility and to make the walker less like to "snag" on carpeting (possibly resulting in a fall). You could try stick-on felt protectors that go on furniture legs (example) as an alternative.
posted by amyms at 10:58 PM on May 29, 2009


Rather than cutting the tennis ball to hold it on you could stick the ball on with hot glue/silicone/contact cement/something else (experimentation would be required). This would allow you to use portions of the tennis balls instead of whole balls doubling or tripling the life of each ball for a modest increment in price because of the adhesive.

I've seen tubes of tennis balls in the dollar store. They probably suck as tennis balls but might be ok in your application.

Tennis balls wear out fairly quickly when playing tennis but would still work for your application. I'm not sure what clubs do with dead balls but I'd call around to see if they toss them/give them away. If so they may allow you to set up a donation box for the group home in the club. You'd probably have a lifetime supply in short order.
posted by Mitheral at 11:26 PM on May 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Call a few tennis ball manufacturing companies and ask for the rejects/deformed balls not suitable for sale.
posted by slateyness at 11:58 PM on May 29, 2009


Thanks for the suggestions guys! I didn't even consider hitting up some of the clubs in the area. Brilliant.
posted by Syllables at 1:23 AM on May 30, 2009


The club idea is great. I also thought about the tennis park near my house that is littered with stray balls. In a pinch, you could walk the perimeter of public courts and help them keep the park clean.
posted by degrees_of_freedom at 7:54 AM on May 30, 2009


My guess is that the metal ends of the walker are pushing through the tennis balls?

If you have a handman, he could take a piece of wood, drill a hole in it the size of the walker leg, and then round it off on a sander so the edges are soft. Then it won't cut into the tennis ball.

You might have to be careful though because if the wood is longer than the leg it could affect the angle of the handles (maybe) and could throw someone off balance. Maybe, maybe not.
posted by sully75 at 8:05 AM on May 30, 2009


My thought is that you should be sure the tubes are capped inside the balls or you might be getting a "cookie cutter" effect. A cheap-to-free fix would be to glue an appropriately sized bottle cap or a film canister onto the leg. A slightly more expensive but vastly more durable solution would be to glue on a PVC pipe cap. Warning: this fix will be super slippery on wood or tile, and won't address the issue of transitions from tile to carpet or raised weather sills in doorways, which is where the tennis ball fix really shines. With a slightly higher investment, you could purchase solid rubber balls, have maintenance drill them out about halfway with a Forstner bit (using a bit just slightly smaller than the leg diameter) and press them on. Again, making sure the tube ends can't core through the ball, maybe by filling them with epoxy putty. This should last for years.
posted by EnsignLunchmeat at 9:09 AM on May 30, 2009


I wonder if racquetballs would last longer than tennis balls....
posted by raf at 12:30 PM on May 30, 2009


It's possible this client's walker doesn't fit him/her properly, and s/he's putting too much pressure on the back legs, causing extra wear on the tennis balls.
posted by shiny blue object at 5:05 PM on May 30, 2009


Sounds like it may be time to upgrade to a rollator!

Kinda pricey though.

Most home stores have a whole selection of different furniture glides, some of which are made of very thick felt like a tennis ball. Maybe something like that could be attached?
posted by orme at 7:24 PM on May 30, 2009


Follow EnsignLunchmeat's suggestion of capping the walker legs with a bottle cap or something-- then put the tennis ball over that. This is assuming the cookie-cutter effect is the problem- by capping the legs inside the tennis ball, you're basically creating a larger point to distribute the pressure, instead of just the rim of the walker tube.

Or, could you take worn-through tennis balls, cut them into little yarmukle shapes, and hot-glue them inside of whole tennis ball covers? To make a double-layer tennis ball cover?
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:20 PM on May 30, 2009


I have been told that tennis clubs throw out loads of tennis balls, so you could talk to someone at a nearby tennis club about letting you have the "dead" balls. The balls would still be good for your walkers, they just aren't good for playing tennis anymore because the pressure is gone.
posted by Polychrome at 6:29 AM on May 31, 2009


As a longtime tennis player, yes, we routinely have lots and lots of balls which we need to toss, but would be fine for your purpose. My club has a prominently displayed box/drop off for used balls, with a sign explaining that they will go to a local nursing home, for the same reason you need them. Club members and local park /public court players are happy to have a reuse for non-bouncy tennis balls, since otherwise we just have to throw them out.
posted by NikitaNikita at 3:33 PM on May 31, 2009


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