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Walker vs Rollator - Which is Right for You?

Apr - 01 - 2022 Northside Medical Supply

A senior couple walking with a mobility deviceBoth walkers and rollators can help an individual balance while offering light to moderate support when walking in a forward direction. So, how do you know which to choose? This guide highlights the differences between these two mobility devices as well as how to accessorize for convenience and comfort.

What is a Walker?
A walker has a four-leg frame and offers light to moderate support when walking in a forward direction. Some walkers come with two wheels allowing the individual to lift the back legs and lean forward to push the device. Others have no wheels and require lifting the device up and outward to move forward. The lightweight design makes either action easy to accomplish for most individuals with light to moderate mobility support needs.

When is a Walker Helpful?
Walkers are primarily used for those who can walk on their own with some stabilizing support for improved balance or to reduce pressure. Examples of those who are excellent candidates for walkers include those who have been recently injured or undergone surgery as well as those who have noticed a decline in muscle or balance.

How is a Rollator Different from a Walker?
A rollator's frame is similar to a walker with one major difference. Rollators have wheels on each leg to allow the individual continual walking without stopping. There is a hand brake as well to help the user control the speed and stop the device. Another difference is many rollators come with a built-in seat. This makes a rollator ideal for times when the individual will be standing in long lines. Although there are some canes with a foldable sport seat, walkers do not usually offer this option.

Who are Rollators Designed For?
Much like walkers, rollators are often suggested for individuals who require light to moderate support following an injury, surgical procedure, or loss of balance or mobility. The key difference is found in the ability to stop the device from moving forward by properly gripping and using the hand brake. Otherwise, the device may continue forward thereby increasing the individual's risk of falling.

Three vs Four Wheels
Rollators come a three-wheel or four-wheel frame. Three-wheel models offer a smaller turning radius and a narrower design for maneuvering through tighter spaces. They may be more suitable for rooms with a lot of furniture or crowded stores.

Four-wheel rollators offer more stability than the three-wheel design. A four-wheel rollator can also accommodate a wider range of height adjustments and support a higher weight capacity. 

What are Upwalkers?
Upwalkers are the same as rollators except they allow the individual to walk more upright instead of leaning over to move the device. These mobility devices are useful for those who prefer and are able to stand upright when walking forward. They also come with armrests for increased comfort and leaning support while the device is in use.

Which Type of Mobility Device is Best?
If lifting the walker frame to move forward is too heavy for the individual, a rollator or an upwalker might be best. Moreover, walkers with wheels on the front may be a good option as they only require lifting and lowering the back legs to allow the device to move forward or stop.

Keep in mind, rollators and upwalkers will require more hand control for breaking and the ability to move forward at a faster pace than a walker. Also, it is important to note they are typically heavier for transport and storage purposes although both a foldable frame style may be available.

Cost Difference
Since walkers are made with lighter frames and do not require a brake, they are usually the less expensive choice. Rollators can cost more depending on the rollator frame construction, the number of wheels, and the seating option. Before determining which to rent or purchase, be sure to check to see if insurance will cover the device for medical purposes.

Convenient & Comfortable Accessories
Whether selecting a walker or a rollator, don't forget to add the accessories like baskets, organizers, cup holders, and cane holders. Having the ability to keep important items within reach, such as medicine, reading glasses, water, and a purse can prevent falling accidents and add value in terms of convenience.

Have Questions?
At Northside Medical Supply located in Roswell, Georgia, we look forward to answering questions about the most trusted brands as well as the top requested features and accessories. Reach out to our friendly and knowledgeable team Monday through Friday between the hours of 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM ET by calling (770) 425-7718 or stop by to visit our showroom and discover our wide array of mobility devices available for purchase or rent.