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How to Choose the Best Walker or Rollator for Your Patient

How to Choose the Best Walker or Rollator for Your Patient

How to Choose the Best Walker or Rollator for Your Patient

If your patients grow tired when walking longer distances, have a condition that impairs their balance, gait, or leg strength, or are recovering from a lower limb injury or surgery, a mobility aid can help them get around easier during everyday activities.

Patients come to clinicians and therapists with a desire to stay independent and active. But how can they choose the right mobility aid? The terms “walker” and “rollator” are often used interchangeably, so how can patients decide which device fits their lifestyle? We’re here to help! Share this guide with your patients to help them make the right choice when choosing a mobility aid that fits their lifestyle.

Overview: Types of Mobility Aids

Walkers vs. Rollators

When to Use a Walker or Rollator

What Walkers and Rollators are Available?

Specialty Mobility Aids

Overview: Types of Mobility Aids

Cane

cane

A cane provides minimal support for short distances and crowded places

Walker

walker

A walker offers sturdy support and balance for longer distances

Rollator

Rollator

A rollator gives you support and mobility over longer distances

Motorized Scooter or Wheelchair

Motorized Scooter or Wheelchair

Makes it easier to move longer distances while using a motor controller

Wheelchair

wheelchair

A wheelchair offers the most stability and allows you to push yourself or be pushed by an attendant (transport chair)

 

For some people, a cane may provide enough support. Others require more aid and find that a motorized scooter, motorized wheelchair, or wheelchair fit their needs best.

If you fall somewhere in the middle, we can help you decide on the best option!

Walkers vs. Rollators

Both options offer support while walking and are foldable for convenience on the go, but what’s the difference?

What is a walker?

What is a rollator?

infographic comparing walkers vs rollators

What is a walker?

walker

walker is a stable mobility aid. Walkers are available in non-wheeled and wheeled versions. They generally look plainer than rollators.

Non-wheeled walkers offer stable support for people who have balance problems. However, the walker must be picked up and moved forward before you take another step, which makes them a poor choice for people with limited arm strength.

Wheeled walkers offer support, but also have two front wheels which makes them a bit more maneuverable and easier to move.

Walkers don’t usually have a seat, but you can add accessories! A walker pouch can be added to hold objects as you move from room to room. A basket can hold groceries or a purse. And a tray can hold a meal, a remote, or other objects. You can even attach a cup holder!

What is a rollator?

rollator

A rollator is a more mobile stability aid. Rollators are available in three or four wheel versions. They come in a variety of colors and are a bit more stylish compared to walkers. But because of the wheels and brake system, rollators are often heavier than walkers (around 25 lbs. vs. 8 lbs.), an important consideration if you’ll be taking it with you and lack arm strength.

A three-wheeled rollator fits in smaller spaces, can make sharp turns, and has increased maneuverability. They’re lighter than four-wheeled options, however, their design means that they don’t offer a seat.

A classic four-wheeled rollator offers stability and easy mobility. Rollators enhance mobility and walking speed. Because they have four wheels, rollators require steering and easy hand brake operation, which may not make them the best option for all users.

A rollator seat gives you a place to sit and rest on longer adventures. Most rollators also have a basket (often below the seat) to hold your belongings. Most rollators don’t have trays though.

When to Use a Walker or Rollator

When should you use a walker?

Walkers are best for users that need stable support and walk at a slower pace. If you are mobile enough to walk instead of using a wheelchair, but have difficulty walking from your bedroom to your bathroom, a walker might be the right choice for you. A walker is also a good solution for people recovering from hip or knee replacement surgery who can’t bear weight on one leg.

When should you use a rollator?

A rollator is best for user’s who can walk but just need a little help with balance and stability. Rollators allow you to walk at a quicker pace and help with a normal gait. The user should be able to steer the rollator and operate the hand brakes as needed. Most rollators have a seat, allowing you to take a rest as needed.

What Walkers and Rollators are Available?

What kind of walkers are available?
What kind of rollators are available?

What kind of walkers are available?

Best Standard Wheeled and Non-Wheeled Walker

walker non-wheeledwalker wheeled

The Days Two Button Walker is a height adjustable standard walker. It’s available in both non-wheeled and wheeled versions. The wheeled (rolling walker) version comes with 3” wheels, best for indoor use, and 5” wheels for indoor and outdoor use. This walker is also available in youth options for children, in addition to adult versions.

Best Bariatric Walker

walker non-wheeledwalker wheeled

The Days Bariatric Walker is available in non-wheeled and double-wheeled versions. These bariatric options support up to 700 pounds. The sturdy aluminum frame keeps the walker both strong and lightweight. The non-wheeled version weighs 7 lbs. and the wheeled version only weighs 8.6 lbs., making it easy to take your walker with you on-the-go.

 

Five Stars. “Worked for my very tall husband's needs.”

-Joanne, Amazon Customer

 

Best Hemi Walker

hemi walker

A hemi walker is more similar to a cross between a cane and a walker than a typical walker. It’s designed for people with limited or no dexterity in one hand or one side weakness. It only takes one hand to use a hemi walker for support while walking. The Days Hemi Walker is one height adjustable hemi walker option.

 

Perfect for my dad who had a stroke. “Perfect for my dad who had a stroke 6 months ago. He has been walking with this for 3-4 months now. It’s light weight, easy to fold and it’s holding up well. Plus very affordable!! We do not regret this purchase.”

-Alison P Toth, Amazon Customer



Best Trolley Walker

trolley walker

While many walkers can be used with a tray accessory, the Homecraft Deluxe Walker Trolley has two! The clip-on shelves can be used to hold and transport reading glasses, a phone, a remote, a tissue box, a book, a magazine, meals, drinks, and more.

 

This Walker Trolley is WONDERFUL!! “I searched and searched for a walker for my 94 year old mother to use in her home. The 2 wheeled walkers were too hard for her to maneuver on the different flooring surfaces. Most 4 wheeled walkers were too bulky and had no place to put items on. Then I saw this Walker Trolley and it was just what I was looking for. I ordered and we both couldn't be happier!

It is sturdy and well made, the color is beautiful, it rolls very easy over all flooring surfaces, it is a great size and fits through all doorways and the two trays allow her to carry items throughout the house as needed - mail, laundry, food from kitchen to table, etc. This Walker has made her very safe, comfortable and more independent. We both LOVE it!”

-Extremely HAPPY!, Amazon Customer

 

Walker Accessories

walker tray walker cup holder denim walker pocket walker basketwalker trough

Walker accessories can make your walker more functional and attractive. A walker tray can be used to hold personal belongings while you use your walker. You could also add a cup holder to hold a can, mug, or bottle. A walker pouch is another option to hold everything you need, whether you prefer a classic black pouch or a sporty multi-pocketed pouch. If you need to hold larger objects, a walker basket might be a better option. Add a walker platform attachment to bear weight on your arms. It's ideal for those with hand injuries or arthritis.

What kind of rollators are available?

Best Standard Rollator

rollator

If a rollator best fits your needs, consider the Days 100 Series 106 - Large Lightweight Aluminium Rollator. Independently move from room to room using this rollator. It includes a seat and an under-the-seat basket to hold your belongings.

 

Smooth and Agile “This has made my life so much better. I can move more freely! I can rest when I need to with the roomy seat. The walker moves smooth and agile. The compartment under the seat is large enough to hold my purse. I recommend this product to anyone who has mobility issues.”

-Teacup, Amazon Customer

 

Best Bariatric Rollator

bariatric rollator

The height-adjustable Days Bariatric Rollator is similar to the standard Days Rollator and also features a seat. It has a separate wire basket to hold your belongings. The bariatric version has more space between the handles and a weight capacity of 700 lbs. Use this rollator at home, at work, and on the go.

Luvin it!!!!! “Luvin it!!!!! This item is great!!!! No problems with the wheels. The extra support bar and the wheel housing are answers to my prayers. This is like a tank.”

-William J., Performance Health Customer

Best Three Wheel Rollator

three wheel rollator

A three wheeled rollator can handle tight turns and fit into spaces that a standard rollator can’t. This three wheel rollator features a pouch, a wire basket, and a tray. The wheels enable the rollator to be used on most terrains while the loop brakes make the rollator easy to use.

Best Collapsible Rollator

collapsable rollatorcollapsed rollator

The Drive Nitro Rollator makes it easier to take your rollator with you on the go. It can be collapsed and remain upright to fit in narrow, crowded spaces. This also makes it easy to fit in the back of your car or store at home. The height adjustable rollator features a mesh seat, fabric backrest, storage bag, and stored brake cables for added safety.

Best Transport Chair Rollator

transport rollator

The Drive Duet Transport Chair/Rollator can be used as a rollator or as a transport chair. A caregiver can push while the user sits on the padded seat, against the backrest, and put their feet up on the footrest. The rollator also features loop lock brakes, a seat belt, and a carry pouch.

Rollator Accessories

oxygen tank rollator

Because most rollators already have a basket, there aren’t as many accessories as for walkers. Some rollators have optional trays designed for use with that particular rollator. Another accessory is an O2 Tank that attaches to a rollator or walker and holds a D, E, or M6/B cylinder of oxygen.


Specialty Mobility Aids

Best Rollator for Parkinson’s Patients

woman walking with walker

The U-Step II Rollator is designed for use by people with neurological conditions. Unlike a standard rollator, this rollator will not move until walking is initiated by the hand brakes. You can control the rolling speed by using the resistance control lever. And it includes a seat and under-the-seat basket.

The U-Step II Rollator option with a laser light helps initiate movement in people with classic Parkinson’s disease. It helps reduce freezing gait episodes by projecting a guiding red laser light in front of the rollator.

Best Posture Rollator

posture rollator

A posture rollator helps you maintain good posture while walking. The UpWalker allows the user to stand upright with better posture than a traditional rollator. It may help reduce back pain and pain in the hands and wrist. You can even add a bag, beverage holder, smartphone holder, cane/umbrella holder, or flashlight.

Best Cardiac Walker

eva support walker

When early walking is indicated after surgery, the EVA Support Walker supports your weight while exercising. The non-marring casters with step-on rear wheel locks provide sturdy support during standing activities. It features comfortable forward-facing handgrips and width-adjustable, padded armrests that are sculpted to support the forearms and prevent them from sliding during movement.

Best Non-Weight Bearing Aid

days steerable knee walker

The cushioned and contoured seat of the Days Steerable Knee Walker comfortably supports half your body weight to take the pressure off injuries below the knee. The rollator supports either the left or right knee and adjusts to fit any height. It features dual hand brakes for excellent control and a front basket for your personal belongings.

Recap

There are many ways to increase your patient's mobility and allow them to comfortably take on the activities they enjoy. Performance Health is happy to help you and your patients with all their mobility needs. Explore walking aids, transfer aids, and other helpful accessories with Performance Health Mobility and Ambulation products.

References
Boughner, A. (2016). The Great Gait Debate: Walker vs. Rollator. Graham Field. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2WFI2b2

Medical Disclaimer: The information provided on this site, including text, graphics, images and other material, are for informational purposes only and are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.