Can a rollator walker be used as a wheelchair? No, rollators are designed explicitly as walking aids rather than transportation accessories.
My mother recently had an episode where she needed the best upright walker with seat. So we had to know whether the rollator would do a perfect job, and here are the do’s and don’ts we found out.
Rollator Usage Dos
According to Grand View Research, the mobility device market size stood at $2.2 billion, with rollators accounting for 67.2%. So what is the difference between a rollator and a walker? (1)
Here is a YouTube video from EquipMeOT explaining what you need to know between a rollator and a walker.
Rollators typically are mobility devices that have four or three wheels attached to the base. On the other hand, Walkers have four stands but do not have the wheel provision.
For this reason, these two devices are best suited for different purposes. In our case, we are focusing on the use of rollators.
When to Use a Rollator
You should use a rollator if you are aged, have mobility disability issues like leg pains or ankle injuries, or are recuperating from a knee replacement. A rollator is one of the effective ways to ensure you can stay active without needing a white cane for stability.
Another reason you should opt for this mobility aid is the rollator seat. Rollators come with a seat whereby you can rest after walking or when the need arises.
This will be much more convenient if you cannot take long walks without a few stops. Moreover, a rollator is handy if you cannot lift a walker since these traditional rollators have limited mobility.
You will only move depending on how far your arms stretch, thus limiting mobility if you have limited arm strength.
Also, note that regular rollators come with a basket for additional storage, allowing you to store whatever accessories you have, like oxygen tanks.
Now that you know when to use this choice of mobility aid, what are the dos?
1. Use as an assistive mobility device
As mentioned above, these wheeled walkers are not meant for use as transport chairs.
Even though they have a padded seat, you can only use this provision as a resting place; otherwise, you risk accidents and short-term injuries.
2. Mandatory use of breaks
Aside from the seat a 3- and 4-wheel rollator option offers, there is a braking provision. What you should note is that since the wheels grant easy movement to a mobility disability person, they can also be a cause of an accident. (1)
These accidents happen when the brakes are not adequately engaged, resulting in the tipping of the assistive device.
And although there are various rollator accident causes, a braking failure can cause extensive damage like brain injury if one falls backward. (2)
Before taking a rest when using this mobility disability device, ensure to engage the brake operation. And if you are not in a position to do so, it is best to ask for help braking the mobility device.
3. Always face forward
As a rule of thumb, maneuvering this type of mobility aid lies with you. So, it is always essential to focus on the trail ahead and take short and slow turns.
The best way to maneuver a rollator is to ensure you are within the rollator’s width. Moreover, ensure your body is parallel with the front bar.
4. Ditch the rollator in tight spaces
Sometimes, you may find yourself navigating tight spaces like a bathroom or a plane aisle. You might want to support yourself using a walker or ask for aisle wheelchairs in such cases.
These alternative mobility devices provide more stability and are flexible enough to allow easy navigation. Moreover, airline flight attendants are always willing to help secure a comfortable seat and keep your wheelchair close upon arrival.
5. Always keep the rollator ahead
Despite the hurry you may be in, it is always essential to have the rollator ahead of you.
Ideally, have the assistive device a short distance from your body before taking a step to maintain proper stability.
The last thing you would want is to tip backward for being too close to the rollator or have it slide forward, leaving you helpless. If you take longer steps with one foot, balance the longer step with the shorter one for stability.
Check some of the types of wheelchairs that climb stairs in the video below.
Rollator Usage Don’ts
Now that you know what a rollator can do understanding what you cannot use it for is essential. This will help you avoid putting yourself and others in harm’s way.
That being said, here are some of the don’ts of rollator usage.
1. Never have someone push you
Can you push someone in a rollator despite the device having a seat and larger wheels? Rollators are not meant to be transportation devices but are walking and rest aids for people with mobility disabilities.
Pushing a person sitting on the device puts them at a considerable safety risk. This is since the welding of the device can give out if the weight capacity limit is exceeded.
2. Never climb the stairs
Despite having a braking system, rollators cannot navigate steep surfaces. Remember that people with mobility disabilities are after stability, and uneven spaces will not provide that.
The best thing to do if you want to navigate upstairs is to have a helping hand. On the other hand, public places usually have ramps to help navigate to higher and lower levels.
3. Avoid carrying loads
While you may have no option but to move groceries by yourself, doing so with a rollator is not recommended.
This is because the weight of the things you carry can affect the assistive device’s stability.
Fortunately, most rollators come with a storage compartment beneath the sitting area. You can use this compartment to store your items or place them on the seat if you are not taking long walks.
4. Never push a rollator in the dark
Visibility is an essential aspect for everyone and especially the aged and disabled. You are prone to safety risks like tripping or hitting obstacles by pushing a rollator in the dark.
The best approach is to have the house illuminated and avoid dark spaces. Moreover, you can avoid being outdoors at night, have a guide, or hook a flashlight onto the rollator.
Here is a quick summary of the do’s and don’ts.
|Use as a walking aid only.||Do not push anyone or yourself.|
|Always engage the brakes when necessary.||Do not attempt to climb the stairs.|
|Face in the same direction as the device.||Do not carry any luggage.|
|Do not use a rollator in tight spaces.||Do not use a rollator in the dark.|
|keep the device ahead at all times.|
Why You Should Not Use a Rollator Walker as a Wheelchair
Learning how to properly use a rollator walker is essential if looking to get this assistive device. Moreover, this type of mobility aid has wheels, unlike the traditional rollators with straight legs.
And since the rollator architecture is not meant to hold weight, using it as a transportation device is a significant safety concern.
If you need a mobility device that can do both tasks, it is better to use a transport chair.
Moreover, the best lightweight rollator walker with seat is handy when you want to stay active. Unlike the manual wheelchair, this mobility aid device allows you to walk around with minimal help.
Check out this video to know where to buy a walker.
Is a rollator better than a cane?
Yes, rollators offer more stability than assistive canes. This is since a rollator has four or three wheels allowing for an even balance between weight and strides.
Can you push someone in a rollator?
No, a rollator is meant to be a mobility aid device instead of a transportation unit. You can only sit on the device while resting, so get an all-terrain rollator & transport chair if you need to push someone.
Is there a physical difference between a rollator and a walker?
Yes, these two mobility devices are different in appearance. Walkers have four stands, while rollators have three or four wheels attached to their legs.
The question of whether a rollator walker can be used as a wheelchair can seem daunting at first. The two devices appear to serve the exact needs but are designed differently.
However, with the rollator do’s and don’ts above, you can now determine whether to get a rollator or a wheelchair. And if you opt for an affordable rollator, you know what you can and can’t do.
- 1. Walking Aids Market Size, Share | Global Industry Report, 2019-2026 [Internet]. www.grandviewresearch.com. Available from: https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/walking-aids-market
- 2. van Riel KMM, Hartholt KA, Panneman MJM, Patka P, van Beeck EF, van der Cammen TJM. Four-wheeled walker related injuries in older adults in the Netherlands. Injury Prevention. 2013;20:11–5.
- 3. Forensic Clues: Elderly Mobility Aids [Internet]. www.experts.com. [cited 2022 Aug 18]. Available from: https://www.experts.com/articles/forensic-clues-elderly-mobility-aids-by-john-ryan
17 thoughts on “Can A Rollator Walker Be Used As A Wheelchair? [Dos & Don’ts]”
As you mentioned, no, you need an actual wheelchair for some things. But this does a lot–my Nana Jo had both!
My mom used to have one of these. Now she uses a wheel chair.
wheelchairs can be too big for some. There is time just to use walkers that fit in any small spaces. Thanks for sharing this with us.
This post is really informative, thanks for providing a breakdown.
This is all great to know. I know someone who uses one of these. It’s nice to know you shouldn’t be using it like a wheelchair.
My daughter is an OT and would absolutely love your article. She gets upset when people don’t have handrails, grab bars, or proper equipment needed to walk, etc. We have a family member who refuses to use a cane and needs one – ugh!
My daughter is an OT and would absolutely love your article. She gets upset when people don’t have handrails, grab bars, or proper equipment needed to walk, etc.
We have a family member who refuses to use a cane and needs one – ugh!
These do look like they provide better stability over a cane. My aunt could use one of these.
Ah yes, we live near a pension home and I sometimes meet residents around with rollators, they would sit on it when they get tired.
Love that you wrote this because we have all seen it done and know how unsafe it is.
I’m sure these tips will come in handy with my parents. Thanks for sharing these tips x
The Rollator does seem like it would have a tempting setup to use in place of a wheel chair but it also doesn’t seem like it’s designed for that sort of use so not being able to use it as a wheelchair makes a lot of sense!
My nana has both, but she mainly uses her wheelchair more often. Thanks for the great information. Will share with my great aunt to help her choose,.
The rollator seems to be very popular lately. It is good to know its proper use.
It’s great to know the differences and do and donts. Everything is clearer now and I can choose the best oprion for my needs!
My mom had both and used her wheelchair as a walker and her walker as a wheelchair. This was despite my best efforts to have her not… lol, it especially made me nervous when she’d use the wheelchair to walk. One little thing making those wheels go too fast and she’d have fallen!
This is great advice for those who need to use a rollator. I would be afraid that using a rollator like a wheel chair could be a huge safety issue and always wondered why someone would try it. I’d be afraid of falling and ending up on the floor.