The Pros and Cons of a Rollator Walker

by Medical XPress

Elderly woman using a walker to stroll with a young girl outside.There are generally three types of walkers out there: a standard walker that has four legs and no wheels, a two-wheeled walker that has wheels on the front two legs, and a rollator walker that has wheels on all of the walker’s legs. For many individuals who need a little help getting around, a rollator walker can be a great help. If you’re considering a rollator walker, here are some pros and cons to consider before making a purchase.

Pro: Requires No Lifting

Standard walkers and two-wheeled walkers both require the user to slightly lift the walker off the ground, set it ahead of themselves, then step forward into the walker. Even with two wheels, the user is required to lift the rear legs and roll the walker forward before setting it back down again. For some people, the act of lifting the walker even that slight amount can be wearisome, if not nearly impossible.

If you have limited upper body strength or lose your balance easily when lifting objects, then a rollator walker is likely a better option for you. Because it has wheels on all of its legs, this style of walker doesn’t require any lifting. You can easily push it forward in a smooth, simple motion.

Con: Not Intended to Bear Weight

There are two main reasons that an individual will require the use of a walker: (1) they have trouble keeping their balance on their own, or (2) they need to lean on something to take a little weight off their legs. Standard walkers are designed for the latter individual; they are made to bear a portion of your weight, so you can lean on them as you move your feet forward.

Rollators, on the other hand, are designed for the former type of mobility assistance. Because there are wheels on all of their legs, leaning heavily on a rollator can be a major safety hazard; the walker could roll out from underneath you as you lean on it, even if you’re using the hand brakes. Instead, a rollator is intended to help you keep your balance without bearing any of your weight.

Pro: Better on Uneven Surfaces

Because standard walkers require you to lift, move, and set it back down, they can be difficult to use on uneven ground. The non-wheeled legs may have a tendency to snag on obstacles or get stuck on dips or cracks in the ground. So, they’re mainly intended for indoor use, on flat, even surfaces.

But a rollator actually performs quite well on more uneven surfaces. You can take it outside on the sidewalk or even on a walking trail around the park, and the wheels will move easily over the rougher terrain. This enables you to enjoy a stroll almost anywhere, instead of being stuck inside.

Pro: Options for Greater Maneuverability

Navigating in tight spaces can be difficult with a walker, especially when it comes to getting around corners. Generally speaking, any kind of rollator walker will be easier to maneuver through tight spaces than other types of walkers. But, in addition to this, three-wheeled rollators are available to provide even great maneuverability.

With a single wheel in front and two in the back, a three-wheeled rollator is smaller, more compact, and can make tighter turns. If your home has narrow hallways and tight corners, it may be worth investing in a three-wheeled rollator to make indoor movement much easier.

Con: Heavier Than Traditional Walkers

Traditional walkers are typically made of very light, hollow aluminum tubes. This means that they weigh very little, which is important, since the user must be able to lift and move the walker forward with each step. Rollators, on the other hand, tend to be quite a bit heavier. When in use, this isn’t typically a problem, since they glide along smoothly and require no lifting to maneuver.

However, if you’re going to be frequently unloading and loading your walker into a vehicle, or doing anything else that requires you to lift your walker on your own, a rollator may be a bit too heavy. There are lightweight options available, but these are still heavier than a standard walker, so keep this in mind when choosing which is right for you.

Pro: Built-In Seating

Most rollators have a built-in seat, and some may even have a backrest as well. If you tire easily, have frequent joint pain, or require regular rests, a rollator provides you with a convenient seat whenever you need it.

If you’re still not sure whether a rollator is right for you, stop by Arlington Medical Supply or one of the many Medical Xpress locations in Texas to try one out for yourself.