For people in need of mobility assistance, walkers and rollators can mean the difference between an independent, active lifestyle and a sedentary one. But many people don’t know the difference between the two devices aside from the fact that one has wheels and the other doesn’t. Deciding whether a walker or a rollator is right for you or a loved one will depend on a variety of factors, including physical ability and where the device will be used most. Here is a basic summary of how they measure up:
What is a walker?
A walker is a lightweight, foldable device with four legs tipped with rubber caps to prevent slipping and comfort grips on the arms made of foam, gel, or rubber. Walkers are typically useful for people who don’t need a wheelchair but still require a measure of mobility assistance. Those who use walkers must have enough strength and endurance to pick up the walker and move it forward one step at a time.
What is a rollator?
A rollator consists of a durable metal frame with four legs on wheels, handlebars with comfort grips and hand brakes, and a built-in seat with storage room underneath for purses or shopping bags. Rollators are great for those who can walk with assistance but need to stop and rest often.
Are walkers and rollators adjustable?
Walkers and rollators both come in models that are easily adjustable to accommodate the height of the user. Some have a wide enough range of adjustment that they can be sold as both an “adult” and “youth” model.
How easy are walkers and rollators to use?
A walker is basic in design and purpose, but it requires sufficient balance on one or both legs to move it forward one step. Some people prefer the “independence” of walkers compared to rollators because the burden of movement remains on the user, not the device. Rollators are easy to use as well, and because of the wheels, they also allow for faster walking speeds and a more normal gait pattern.
How easy is it to maneuver walkers and rollators?
Some varieties of walkers come with front wheels to help maneuver difficult terrain, but this is one area where rollators have walkers beat. The front wheels on rollators swivel for easy turning in a small space. They are also available with smaller casters and lighter frames for mostly indoor use, and larger casters and heavier frames for safety and stability outdoors. Three-wheel rollators offer even greater maneuverability, especially in small spaces.
What other options do walkers and rollators offer?
Hemi walkers allow the user to lean on one side for support if hand or arm dexterity is an issue. Rise-assistance walkers have a sloped front handle to grab and use as leverage to pull up from a seated position.
If you plan on using your device outside often, rollators come in outdoor models with larger, tougher tires. And while most rollators come in models that fold up like walkers, they do weigh more than walkers, so they are more difficult to lift into a car trunk.
What is the cost difference between walkers and rollators?
Physical ability and projected use should be the primary factors driving your decision in which mobility device to use. But it’s also true that rollators are generally more expensive. When a rollator is needed for short-term use due to an injury or non-permanent condition, it might be more budget-friendly to rent the device than buy it.
Need help deciding? Give us a call.
At PA Healthcare, we can help you select the best at-home medical equipment for your needs. In addition to selling and renting walkers, rollators, wheelchairs, patient lifts, and other assistive equipment, we also offer delivery throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties. Contact us today to speak to a representative who can help you select the right products for you.