Rollators are wheeled versions of the traditional medical walker. Wheeled walkers help users get around with greater ease. Instead of picking up your walker with each step, you simply push your device forward to move.
For those with limited upper body strength or mobility, a wheeled walker allows for much greater independence.
When choosing a wheeled walker, or rollator, you will find there are two main options: 3 wheels and 4 wheels.
3-Wheel Walkers and Their Benefits
As you may have guessed, a 3-wheel walker has three wheels. But instead of the conventional rectangular shape you find with traditional walkers, 3-wheel rollators have a triangular shape.
The triangular shape is much more maneuverable. It allows the walker to fit in a wider range of spaces. Many models can even be folded for easy transport and storage.
The Benefits of 3-Wheel Walkers
There are quite a few benefits to using a 3-wheel walker over other walker types, including the 4-wheeler.
Compared to a standard walker, a 3-wheel model will give you more mobility and allow you to move at a faster pace. Standard walkers require a certain amount of upper body strength and flexibility, but a 3-wheel walker does not. Wheels make it easy to move without having to lift the walker.
Compared to a 4-wheel walker, the 3-wheel models are more lightweight and easier to transport. The triangular design also makes it easier to move through narrower spaces. The handles can be pulled inward to reduce the width of the walker when moving through tight corridors or crowds.
The nice thing about the 3-wheel models is that they’re wonderful for traveling. If you’re out at a restaurant, you can simply fold the walker and place it next to the table or against the wall.
Three-wheel models also have a tighter turn radius compared to other walker types, which makes them easy to control and switch directions when needed. The tight turn radius makes it easier to navigate indoor spaces, especially when walking down hallways or through doorways.
4-Wheel Walkers and Their Benefits
A 4-wheel walker comes equipped with four wheels and has the traditional rectangular shape of a conventional walker.
Like the 3-wheel walker, 4-wheel walkers are easy to use and require less upper body strength.
The Benefits of 4-Wheel Walkers
Many people choose 4-wheel walkers over 3-wheel models because they offer better stability and seat options.
Having four wheels makes it easier to maintain balance without having to put in too much effort. You have four legs to lean on, but the wheels allow you to move more quickly and smoothly.
Three-wheeled walkers are flexible, but they aren’t quite as stable as their four-wheel counterparts. Four-wheel models also allow you to put more weight on them.
One of the main benefits – and often the most attractive – to using a 4-wheel walker is the seat feature. Many models come with seats and backrests that allow you to rest without having to find a chair or bench. Simply lock the walker’s brakes and take a seat.
With many models, the backrest can be folded to make transport even easier.
Many four-wheel walkers also allow you to adjust the handle height, so you can find a size that’s right for you. Three-wheel walkers often don’t have this feature due to their smaller size.
Which Walker is Right for You?
Ultimately, it comes down to your mobility needs.
A 3-wheel walker may be a good fit for you if:
- You have better balance
- There is a need to navigate tight spaces
- You need greater transportability
A 4-wheel walker may be a good fit for you if:
- You need more stability
- You want a walker that has a seat
- You need a walker with an adjustable height
Allie has worked in care facilities for the last 15 years providing mobility and health care to seniors of all skill levels. She is passionate about senior advocacy and is and loves to spend her free time in the outdoors.