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Choosing Using Rollators Or Wheeled Walkers

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By Author: Derry Hall
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As people get older, they often require assistance doing the things they once took for granted. Using modern equipment to help makes sense for a number of reasons. Many products are now available which make life much easier and increase mobility.

Arthritis is a condition which affects millions of people in the UK. It causes stiffness and pain in the joints. Routine tasks like walking to the shops can become arduous if the condition affects your legs or hips. When using walking sticks or elbow crutches becomes painful, many turn to wheeled walking aids.

Under these circumstances, people often use wheeled walking frames called rollators, to help. These are available with either two or three wheels and offer a rolling support platform for the user.


Lightweight rollators are now available which are easier to steer and control than older models. When wheeled walking frames first came on the market some decades ago, they were usually made of steel. This made them both heavy and prone to rust.

Aluminium rollators are now the most common in the UK. This material is both strong, light in weight and much less corrosive than steel. Using it makes rollators practical and in some cases less expensive.

Weight is an important factor when choosing mobility aids. Rollators frequently require lifting on and off of public transport, so keeping their weight as low as possible is helpful.

Four or Three Wheels?

Safety and stability is another consideration. Four wheeled models tend to be the most stable. Distributing pressure to the four corners of the frame creates a solid platform. These four-wheeled walking aids often have an integral seat. Some seats offer a backrest made of padded material. This feature is useful if you need a rest mid-walk, something many elderly people are grateful for!

Three-wheeled rollators do not have a seat, but are usually slightly easier to manoeuvre. The downside is that without a wheel in each of four corners, they are less stable. Being generally smaller and lighter, some people prefer them because they are easier to lift.

Fold-Down Walking Aids

Ease of storage is also a factor when choosing mobility aids like wheeled walking frames or rollators. Most modern designs fold down to save space when not in use. They are usually easier to lift while collapsed.

When choosing a frame, make sure that it folds down to the size you require for easy storage. You might also want to consider if the frame has a clip which ensures it stays folded until manually released.

Hand Grips

Handles and grip materials vary from model to model. Some rollators simply have bare tubing, while others have plastic or rubber grips which offer great comfort. If the tube is bare, you can apply tape, similar to that found on tennis racquets, which improves comfort and grip.

If you are using the walking aid for substantial journeys, you might want to consider rollators with comfortable grips. Some rollators have ergonomic handles, shaped to the contours of human hands.

There are some walking frames which have forearm troughs rather than handles. People with severe arthritis in their hands often find these frames more comfortable. They reduce the stress and weight going through hands, diverting it instead to the forearms.

Your occupational therapist would be able to give you advice on the suitability of these special mobility aids.

Brakes, Baskets and Bags

Rollators for outside use all have brakes fitted so they do not roll down hills of their own accord! Some are similar to those you find on bicycles, operated by pulling a handle-lever towards you with your fingers. These provide the chance to slow down the rollator, if you find it is going too fast downhill.

Another common brake found on wheeled walking frames is the pressure brake. These lock with downward force. Unlike the lever brake, pressure brakes are either on or off and can’t slow the rollator down when it is moving.

On-board storage is another feature offered by most modern rollators. Usually there will be a basket under the seat on four-wheel models. Three-wheelers often have facility to hang a bag from the front.

More About the Author

Essential Aids provides disability aids, mobility equipment and rehabilitation products to people in the UK.

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