Do I need a walker or rollator? Walker vs Rollator: A Helpful Guide (2023)

Choosing the right mobility aid is an essential step towards improving quality of life.There are several different models available on the market, and choosing the one that best suits you or your loved one's needs can be a challenge.

While walkers and walkers may look similar at first glance,there are some important differences in both structure and use cases.

In addition to showing the differences and similarities between walkers and walkers, my goal is to help you select the type of walker that works best for you.

Without further ado, let's see what you need to know and consider when choosing a mobility aid.

What is a walker?

A walker is basicallya light and strong structure that has four legsand it usually ismade of aluminum(or other metal). Hikers are also called hikers and are among thecommon mobility aids.

This is what a walker with front wheels looks like:

Do I need a walker or rollator? Walker vs Rollator: A Helpful Guide (1)Pin

A walker provides support when changing positions, soimproves stability and balancefor people with mobility problems.

A walker helps you get from point A to point B more safely, reducing the risk of falls.

Although mobility disorders tend to become more common with age,Walkers are not exclusively used by seniors.Sometimes, due to an injury or fracture, you may not be able to put weight on one foot. In this situation, a walker can be extremely helpful.

a walkercan have a maximum of two wheelsHowever, basic hikers don't have any.

Let's go to the pros and cons of a walker.

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  • light frame
  • most walkers are height adjustable
  • accessible
  • walkers without wheels offer great stability and firm support for people with balance issues
  • can be used during non-weight bearing recovery
  • most models are foldable, so they require little space for storage


  • you need some arm strength to operate a model without wheels as you have to lift the frame to move forward
  • not suitable for longer trips
  • difficult to use on uneven surfaces
  • it is more difficult to maneuver with a walker than with a walker
  • a walker has no seat
  • most models do not come with a bag or basket, but you can purchase one separately
  • certain models can contribute to poor posture when worn for prolonged periods

types of walkers

There are several types of walkers on the market, here are the most common ones:

Basic walker (standard).It is a walker that has four legs with sliding tops (or tennis balls) and no wheels. Offers excellent stability.

Two-wheel walker.It's a basic walker with wheels attached to the two front legs. It requires less arm strength than a basic walker, as you don't have to lift the entire frame, just your back.

Hemi walker.It is a walking aid designed to be used with one hand. It is designed for people who have a weak arm (due to paralysis, a broken bone or another reason) and as a result cannot use a standard walker. A Hemi walker is more stable than a cane but provides less support than a basic walker.

Posterior rolling walker (the reverse).While a traditional walker can be used by pushing it in front of you, a posterior walker is behind you and you must pull it along as you walk. It can improve posture and is often used by children with specific conditions. A back walker can have two or four wheels.

What is a walker?

Structurally, a walker is quite similar to a walker.Simply put, walkers are walkers on wheels.(also called rolling walkers).

A walker has three or four legs thatall have wheels attachedand usually two of them can rotate.

Also, hikers usually come withvarious features such as a basket or a padded seat.Walkers normally don't have any of that.

Here is a typical hiker:

Do I need a walker or rollator? Walker vs Rollator: A Helpful Guide (2)Pin

All walkers have parking brakes.which is a necessary security feature to improve device stability.

It is important to know that in most cases the parking brakes only stop the rear wheels. This is one of the reasons why a walker is not the best option for anyone who needs firm support or has balance issues.

(Video) Choosing the Right Walker or Rollator

Hikers are generally sturdier than hikers, therefore they weigh more.The difference in weight between a walker and a walker is usually significant.

Happily,you don't need to lift a walker when using it(unlike a walker), instead simplyhe needs to be pushed.

Let's look at some advantages and disadvantages of most hikers.


  • padded seat and backrest
  • robust design
  • storage basket and/or other accessories
  • you have to push it instead of lift it
  • relatively easy to maneuver (especially true in the case of a three-wheel walker)
  • can be used for longer trips outdoors
  • great for those with weak arms
  • Larger wheels compared to two-wheel walkers


  • not the best option for people with balance issues
  • not as stable as a walker (can easily slide forward when not used correctly)
  • offer less standing support
  • more expensive
  • heavier than a walker
  • in certain cases, it can contribute to poor posture

What are the differences between a walker and a walker?

As you can see, a rolling walker and a standard walker differ in many ways. The following table shows the general differences between the two devices.

This table shows the differences between walkers and walkers.
Walker (without wheels)stroller
number of wheelsZerofour
hand brakesNoSim
To go backNoSim
basket or bagNo (usually)Sim
number of legsfourthree or four
Do you need to lift the device?SimNo
firm immovable supportSimNo
Is it safe if you have balance issues?Yes, in most cases)No
forward speedTo beFaster
outdoor useLimitedSim

Is a walker better than a walker?Well, it depends on the use case and your situation. For one thing, certain medical conditions, like not being able to bear weight, don't allow you to use a traditional walker.

On the other hand, walkers usually come with more features and improved mobility as they are more convenient for longer trips. But again, every case is different, sometimes you just don't have a choice and have to use a walker or crutches.

Walker vs Rollator: similarities

While there are some key differences between the two devices, walkers and rollators share some common characteristics. Let's see them one by one.

  • Both hikers and walkers are mostlymade of metal.The frame material of most walkers is aluminum, while walkers can also be made of steel or aluminum.
  • Heweight capacitythe range of the two mobility aids overlaps as it is usually between 250 lbs and 500 lbs.
  • In most cases,the height of both devices is adjustable.
  • They arewidth variesdepending on the model. A walker or narrow rollator can be extremely useful when you need to maneuver in tight spaces or through narrow doorways. You can findMore information on narrow walkers here.
  • Many walkers and walkers arefolding, so they are relatively easy to store and transport.
  • A common disadvantage is that both types of devicescan contribute to poor postureor worsen back or wrist pain if not used correctly. If this concerns you, an upright walker may be a reasonable option to avoid these problems (more on upright walkers later).
  • The vast majority of walkers and hikers must beplaced in front of you, and you must push or pick them up as you advance.

When do you need a walker?

If you feel unsteady when walking, lose your balance easily, and need firm support to keep from falling, you probably need a walker, not a walker.

Furthermore, if sometimesfeel insecure and need help, a walker can help you in these situations. However, to use a walker, you must have some strength in your arms and legs.

If you have a weak legand it makes you unstable in certain situations, oryou don't have to bear any weightafter surgery or injury and you cannot put weight on one leg, you will need a walker (or crutches).

However, if your legs are too weak to support your weight, or you feel that the physical exertion of using a walker is too demanding, you may need a wheelchair.

While you may not be able to move quickly with a walker, it does give youfirm support, especially the models without wheels.

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Please note that the use of a walkerput stress on wrists and hands, so if you have severe arthritis or weakness in these areas, you may not be able to use the device properly.

A walker does not have a seat, and this can be an issue if you have a medical condition that requires you to stop and rest frequently.

The use of a walker outdoors is limited asnot really suitable for longer trips.

Make sure you learn to use a walker.No dangerand adjust it to your needs before incorporating it into your daily life to avoid falls and injuries.You can find some useful tips here.

For your information:A walker isn't always necessary, sometimes a simple cane or a pair of crutches is all you need to improve your balance and stability. To find the walking aid that best suits your needs, I recommend that you consult an expert or your doctor before purchasing.

When do you need a walker?

Compared to a walker,a walker will not give you the same level of constant support as it has four wheels which make the device less stable.

A walker is usually a good choice if you can walk without too much difficulty but need additional support to improve walking stability. However, it should not be used to support the weight of the entire body.

A walker can help seniors be more active and independent., as it gives them a sense of confidence and security. If your health allows it, a walker can significantly improve your quality of life by improving mobility.

Furthermore, it is veryeasier to maneuverthan a standard walker, especially if you use a three-wheeled model. There's no need to get up, making hikes a smoother experience.

Walkers are also suitable for longer trips outdoors.Hestorage compartmentwill help you to take some things with you while thebuilt-in seatThis will allow you to rest when you need it. If you plan on using your walker primarily outdoors, consider choosing a model with larger wheels.

To use:If you can't put your weight on one leg or if you're recovering from surgery, you'll likely need a walker instead of a walker.

do not forget thatyou need to customize your walker before you start using it.This includes adjusting the position of the parking brakes and setting the device and seat height (if possible).

things to consider

When choosing a new mobility device, theunderlying health conditionwill determine the types of walking aids that can be considered.

That's why it's so important to know the main reasons why you need a mobility aid.

(Video) What is a Rollator Walker?

  • Do you have balance issues?
  • Do you feel unsteady when walking?
  • Do you get tired easily?
  • Leg that does not support weight?
  • Wound?
  • Weak legs?
  • Upper body strength

These are just a few things to consider before purchasing a new mobility device.

Once you've determined the type of mobility device you need, the next step is to choose the exact model that fits your needs.That's when you need to consider the dimensions and capabilities of the device.

Improper use of a walker or walker can lead tocaiand woundsIf you have never used these types of mobility aids before, you must first learn how to use them correctly. If in doubt, do not hesitate to consult a professional.

Common questions

What is an upright walker?

Although an upright walker isvery similar to a walker(it has four wheels, seat, handbrake, etc.), when using it, you need toposition your hands and forearms completely differently.

An upright walker requires you to place your forearms on raised armrests, which helps improve your posture by preventing you from slouching.

This type of walker can be especiallyUseful if you suffer from back or wrist pain or want to stand while using the device.

What is a bariatric walker?

A walker or bariatric walker is basicallya sturdy version of a standard walkeror walker. It is designed for larger people, so it is wider and has a higher weight capacity than a regular walker.

Can a walker be used as a wheelchair?

Although you can sit in a walker to rest,it is not intended or designed to be used as a wheelchair.Transporting a person in a standard walker can lead to accidents and injuries.There are models, however, that can be converted into a wheelchair.but this is not common. Therefore, in most cases, you should not use a walker as a wheelchair.

What is a knee walker?

A knee walker (or knee scooter) is an assistive device designed to improve mobility after surgery and injuries below the knee. In these cases, it can be an alternative to crutches and canes.

This type of walker features aknee padwhere the affected lower limb can rest during recovery.

Photos: Wikimediaand KDPeters,Hansimglueck70)


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