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What Is A Rollator: Ultimate Rollator Walker Guide

What Is A Rollator: Ultimate Rollator Walker Guide

Apria Editorial |

While wheeled walkers had been around since 1957, it wasn't until 1978 that a Swedish polio patient named Aina Wifalk developed the concept of a rollator. Although it was initially a trademark for a specific brand of walker, the term "rollator" has now come to be used generically to refer to any walker with wheels.

Find all you need to know about the rollator walker in this in-depth guide from ApriaHome. Discover different types of rollators, how to use them, how to choose the best one & more!

What is a rollator? Let's start at the beginning. In the 1950s, people first saw the emergence of walkers. After being submitted in August 1949 to the British patent office, the first patent in the United States was granted to William Cribbes Robb for a "walking aid" in 1953. The United States granted patents for two-wheeled variations in May 1957.

While wheeled walkers had been around since 1957, it wasn't until 1978 that a Swedish polio patient named Aina Wifalk developed the concept of a rollator. Although it was initially a trademark for a specific brand of walker, the term "rollator" has now come to be used generically to refer to any walker with wheels.

Forward rolling walkers featuring wheels, adjustable parts, brakes, baskets, foldable seats, and trays go beyond being just a walking aid. It's an ever-present backbone that enables greater independence for those who need it,

The rollator's adaptability makes it ideal for a wide range of situations, including but not limited to:

  • Errands around the house
  • Trips to the store
  • Strolls along the lake
  • Visits with friends and neighbors
  • Emergency seating
  • Preventing falls

Find all you need to know about the rollator walker in this in-depth guide from ApriaHome. Discover different types of rollators, how to use them, how to choose the best one, and more!

What Is A Rollator Walker Used For?

The versatility of a rollator makes it an ideal mobility aid. Rollators can be found with either three or four wheels. They're more sophisticated than standard walkers and are available in various colors and styles. However, due to the wheels and braking mechanism, rollators tend to be heavier than walkers (about 25 lbs. vs. 8 lbs.), which is something to keep in mind if you plan on transporting it and do not have sufficient arm strength to do so.

Rollators are used for:

  • Patients who have trouble walking long distances
  • Patients who have a condition that affects their balance, mobility, or leg strength
  • Patients recuperating from lower limb injury or surgery

What Are The Different Types Of Rollators?

When it comes to body weight and balance support, a combination of crutches, a cane, a walking stick, or a walker is advisable.

For long-term mobility support, a rollator differs from a walker in that:

  • Its frame is designed to accommodate a seat, and each leg ends in a pivoting wheel
  • Seats are fundamental to the design of most rollators
  • It is unnecessary to lift a rollator for mobility

4-Wheel Rollator

The 4-wheeled rollators have wheels on all legs, offer the greatest range of mobility, and have front swivel wheels that help with turning. It is lightweight and sturdy, making it simple to move around in any environment. Featuring loop cable brakes that are easy on the joints and ergonomically built handgrips, this mobility solution is a dream for those with arthritis. In addition, four-wheeled rollators often feature a cushioned seat with a back that locks into place for added security.

Four-wheeled rollators include convenient under-seat storage and an easy-to-fold frame for easy storage.

Our recommendations:

3-Wheel Rollator

The tri-rollator's size and light weight make it a more mobile stability aid. It is easy to transport or store ‒ ideal for usage at home or on the move. The three-wheel rollator's front swivel wheel makes it easier to navigate through crowded public spaces, narrow hallways, and other similar obstacles. The 7.5-inch wheels roll easily on moderately smooth surfaces, making them useful both indoors and out. The tri-rollator folds in half easily for hassle-free car transport or compact storage.

Our recommendation:

Folding Rollator

The Folding Rollator is one of the most convenient mobility aids available because it is both lightweight and foldable, making it simple to transport in any vehicle. This rollator is very lightweight at approximately 15 lbs and folds in two directions for a very compact size, making it incredibly easy to use, store and carry.

These walking aids often feature durable and lightweight aluminum cross bracing and frame for portability and support. A flexible and comfortable backrest ensures safety and relaxation for long seated periods. Brake wires are concealed inside in an ergonomic loop design, increasing safety. Handles can be adjusted in height with a push of a button.

Bariatric Rollator

When it comes to rollators, the Bariatric Rollator is an ideal option for users up to 700 lb in weight. The Bariatric Rollator is widely used in hospitals, nursing homes, and private residences.

The Bariatric Rollator features a spacious, padded seat that may be used for sitting or resting. In addition, the sturdy frame and large 8-inch wheels provide the user with plenty of stability and safety.

The brakes on the Bariatric Rollator are reliable and versatile, functioning as a parking brake and a manual brake. The two different kinds of braking systems provide safe handling and maneuverability.

With the back support in place, the user's body weight is evenly distributed across the seat, reducing the potential for injuries and increasing comfort for long seated periods.

Outdoor Rollator

The outdoor rollator is a stable, lightweight outdoor mobility aid. It can be folded up and usually weighs just under 15 lbs. When folded, it takes up very little space and stands upright independently.

The stylish, large front wheels make it simple to negotiate turns and obstacles. The fenders above the back wheels are designed to prevent clothes from getting dirty. The rear wheels incorporate shock absorbers to keep the rollator running smoothly regardless of the terrain.

Most models feature a built-in soft rubber suspension that buffers the impact of the rear wheels while traversing challenging terrain on foot.

How To Use A Rollator Walker?

Your new rollator is your new best friend, there to support you, help you complete daily tasks, and help you enjoy more leisure activities. Ultimately, your new rollator will help you regain your independence. Don't be afraid to ask for assistance or accept it when it's being offered.

The following guidelines will ensure the correct and safe use of your new rollator.

  • Keep yourself inside the walker at all times, and ensure that all four wheels are flat on the ground before moving.
  • When using a walker, your hips should be level with the legs closest to you.
  • Hold the rollator at a comfortable but supportive distance; it shouldn't look like you are pushing it in front of you or holding it too close to your body.
  • Your stomach should always be facing forward when using a rollator. Do not put yourself in curious positions that can lead to a twisted ankle or knee.
  • Ensure you maintain a steady pace, take smaller steps and keep an eye out on the terrain in front of you,
  • It is best practice to keep a cane, crutches, or walker handy when first starting out with your rollator in case you feel unsteady or unsure.

What Is The Difference Between A Rollator And A Walker?

Rollators and walkers are useful mobility aids for the elderly and those struggling to maintain balance or stability. They also contribute to a better feeling of independence and security when walking. Both are used to facilitate movement, but there are key distinctions between the two.

A rollator's frame is designed differently from a standard walker's. A walker is characterized by a metal frame with gripping mechanisms. As the individual walks, the frame must be raised. Conversely, medical rolling walkers can be pushed forward while the user walks, eliminating the need to raise the mobility aid every few steps.

How To Choose A Rollator Walker?

Whether you're looking for a rollator for you, a loved one, or a patient in your care, you'll want to ensure you're making the best possible decision. This helpful guideline will walk you through everything you need to consider,

Number of Wheels:

Whether to have a three- or four-wheeled rollator is one of the first decisions you'll have to make. There are advantages and disadvantages to both choices.

The reduced width of a rollator with just three wheels makes it more maneuverable in compact spaces. Many people find that feature makes them more suited for usage inside the house. Additionally, they are less cumbersome and easier to transport. Most models don't feature a seat.

Four-wheeled rollators are the most popular choice. They are more stable and can support a larger range of weights and heights than three-wheel rollators, but they are bulkier and heavier. They often have a comfortable seat for sitting down if you become tired of walking.

Wheel Size:

The diameter of your rollator's wheel is an important consideration. Wheels on rollators typically range in diameter from 6 to 10 inches, with anything more than 8 inches being classified as "large."

Large-wheeled rollators seem to be the most comfortable and convenient for most users. The larger wheels of the rollator will make it easier to maintain mobility outdoors and on rougher surfaces. Think about how frequently and on what kinds of surfaces you'll need to use your rollator.

Rollators with 6- to 7-inch wheels may be more suitable if you intend to use them mostly indoors. Smaller wheels offer a narrower turning radius and are therefore preferable for indoor use and flatter surfaces.


Seating Options:

If a rollator with a seat is more convenient for you, make sure it's one you can relax in. For example, a rollator with a cushioned seat or a sling seat. Although unpadded plastic seats are easy to maintain, they can become rather uncomfortable after prolonged use.

The size of the seat is also important. Standard rollator seats measure between 13 and 18 inches across; however, the actual width of the mobility aid is often much more. Your dimensions while seated on a flat surface will be the measurements you consider when deciding on which sized seating you need, with an inch or two leeway on each side.


Grips & Breaking:

The level of comfort you experience when using a walker or rollator greatly depends on the quality of the grips you choose. Most feature plastic grips; however, a softer grip may be preferable if your hands sweat easily. Larger grips are easier to use for those who suffer from arthritis or ailments that affect grasping ability.

Rollators need grips that provide a firm grasp while also allowing for easy brake engagement.

There are a variety of styles of hand brakes available for rollators:

  • Loop Lock Brakes: It may be taxing for anyone with less hand strength to utilize the loop-lock brakes, which are hard plastic hand loops beneath the handlebars.
  • Single-Handed Brakes: Those who are unable to use two hands to brake might benefit from single-handed brakes
  • Lean Activated Breaks: Lean-activated push-down brakes are convenient for riders with weaker hand strength.

Height:

The correct handle height can be determined by the user standing with their arms at their sides and elbows bent slightly. Measure from the floor to the middle of their wrist to determine the ideal handle height.

The handles on most walkers can be adjusted for height; the best options offer a wide height adjustment range.

Weight Bearing Capacity:

The maximum user weight should be taken into account to guarantee the rollator's stability. The normal weight range for standard rollators is 250 - 350 lbs. Heavy-duty or bariatric rollators can support up to 700 pounds.

Storage:

Consider how easy your rollator will be to fold, store, transport, and set up again in relation to your available space and mobility limitations.

Accessories:

In addition to the basic features, you should think about any optional add-ons needed for your rollator. Consider whether a basket or pouch is more useful to you than the standard storage space offered by most rollators. Accessories like baskets provide more storage space, while pouches offer more discretion.

Other accessories include:

  • A cup/cane holder
  • A portable flashlight
  • An organizer bag or a basket to keep smaller objects in order
  • Hooks for hanging storage

Consider other customizations to accommodate a user's specific needs, medical equipment, or mobility requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions About The Use Of A Rollator

How much does a roller walker cost?

A regular walker typically costs between $30 and $100. Rollator walkers are more costly than other mobility aids, with entry-level models starting at about $70 and high-end models going up to $600.

Who should not use a rollator walker?

People who have trouble maintaining their balance, struggle with severe weakness in their hands or need their full weight supported will benefit from using a standard walker. A rollator is not ideal for a cognitive disability profile or a blind user’s profile. These patients will benefit from wheelchairs or canes.

Can I use my walker or rollator on the stairs?

Using a mobility aid to climb or descend the steps is not advised; using stair lifts or walkers to navigate stairways is safer. In no circumstances should walkers or rollators be used on escalators; choose to take an elevator instead.

Is there funding available for rollators?

When a doctor prescribes a walker or rollator for medical reasons, Medicare Part B and other health insurance providers will cover it if the patient meets specific criteria. Funding can also be obtained through community and other non-profit organizations.

Unparalleled Support With ApriaHome. Restore Your Health And Independence With Our Range Of Mobility Aid & Accessories

Here at ApriaHome, we are passionate about restoring independence by providing premium quality mobility solutions. Whether it's a twisted ankle, a broken knee, or long-term mobility assistance, we have the solution for you. We believe in providing resources, assistance, accessories, and medical equipment to restore quality for patients across the country regardless of their requirements.

Looking to take the next assisted steps into your brand new life? A rollator will restore your mobility and independence in your daily and leisure activities, helping you make new memories with loved ones and make the most out of every day.

Browse our range of hospital-grade mobility aids, wheelchairs, walkers, and rollators, all available from the convenience of our online medical equipment supply portal.

Looking for additional advice? Our helpful agents are on call at (800) 780-1508 between 8:00 am - 10:00 pm EST daily. Get in touch today.

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