So, you and your health care provider have determined a walker is needed to help with your mobility. Now it’s time to learn about the types of walkers and rollators that are available.
Unfortunately, most people know little to nothing about them. I have an entire article that goes into great detail about the types of walkers that you can read by clicking here if you really want to learn the all the nitty-gritty details about walkers.
Or, here is a quick rundown of the different kinds of walkers and rollators you will see when shopping for a walker:
The Standard Walker or Front Wheeled Walker
The standard walker is probably the one you are most familiar with. It is basically four metal legs with a handlebar that the user holds onto and moves it. These walkers usually fold up for easy transportation and storage.
The most common variation of this walker is the front wheeled walker.They will also have attachments called glide tips or skis to help them slide along.
Standard walkers are very lightweight and fold up very easily. Most of these walkers weigh 10 lbs or less. So, they are easy for most seniors to pick up and load in their car. When you add wheels the front, they are even easier to move because they can glide along the floor.
The Rollator Walker or 4 Wheel Walker With Seat
The rollator walker is a variation of the front wheeled walker. A rollator walker has 4 wheels though (a wheel on each leg) and a set of brakes on the handles. These larger wheels and brakes make them a great choice for outdoor use. But, the biggest advantage to the rollator walker is that it comes with a seat.
The seat on a rollator provides a place to rest if a senior gets tired or suddenly dizzy. The wheels can quickly be locked by pulling on the handles and the senior can turn around and sit. The seats on most rollators usually hide a basket where other items can be carried or stored.
The drawback to a rollator is that they are larger and heavier than a standard walker. Many of these weigh 20 lbs or so. There are a few models that are lighter weight though.
The Triangle Walker or Three-Wheeled Rollator
These rollators are a variation on the 4 wheeled rollators above. But, they only have three legs and wheels and are triangle shaped.
Like their 4 wheeled cousins, they also have brakes that can be used to prevent the rollator from moving.
The unusual shape of three-wheeled rollators has a distinct advantage: they are smaller and more maneuverable. Because the front of the walker comes to a point, it is easier to make sharp turns and move through tight spaces.
But, because of their shape, three wheeled rollators do not usually have seats. But there are baskets like the 4 wheel models for carrying and storage.
Less Common Walker Types
There are a few other walkers out there for more specialty purposes.
For instance, knee walkers are temporary walkers for broken legs or injury to a single leg. Another name for these is knee scooters.
They have a foam cushioned pad where the broken leg can rest along with a handlebar for steering. The user rides along with the injured leg bent on the pad and they push themselves along with the good leg.
Knee walkers have definite advantages that make them a great mobility aid for outdoor use especially in place of crutches. You can learn more about the uses for knee walkers in this guide here.
Another specialty walker that is often used with seniors is the hemi walker.
Think of hemi walkers as a combination walking cane and walker. They are designed to be used on one side of the body only. Usually, the person using a hemi walker has had a stroke with weakness or damage to one side of the body but is unable to safely use a cane.
Hemi walkers also fold up for storage and transportation. Like a walking cane, hemi walkers are used to the side of the body rather than in front of the body. Also like a cane, they are used on the opposite side of the injury. Hemi walkers must be picked up and moved – they do not have wheels.