What is a Rollator?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2019
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Following orthopedic surgery, many people are prescribed mobility aids such as crutches or walkers. Patients suffering from degenerative muscular diseases may have to rely on walkers or even wheelchairs for mobility. The problem with many of these mobility aids is that they do not support a 'normal' walking gait. Users of crutches or standard walkers cannot pivot or change directions easily, while wheelchair users often form a physical and psychological dependency on the chair. To address this problem of limited mobility, more and more doctors and orthopedists are recommending a walking aid known as a rollator.

The rollator has been in use in Scandinavian and European countries for many years, but has only recently become popular in the United States. A rollator could best be described as a standard walker taken to the extreme. Four large tires replace the two small wheels and two posts of a walker. The handles of a rollator feature caliper brakes, much like a ten-speed bicycle. The user can squeeze these hand brakes to lock the wheels in place, or release them to continue walking.


A rollator also contains a large basket for storage purposes, along with a canvas seat and back between the handles. This seat allows users to take short rest breaks whenever necessary. The storage area of a rollator is often larger and more stable than the wire basket attachment of a standard walker. Due to its collapsible design, a rollator can also be folded and stored in a car's trunk or rear seat. Standard walkers can be folded into thirds, but they are not nearly as compact as a rollator.

There are some disadvantages associated with the use of a rollator, however. Because the technology behind the rollator is so new, there are few long-term studies available on its mechanical properties. This is a concern for orthopedic surgeons and physicians, because an improper walking aid can ultimately do more harm than good for patients recovering from surgery. Some tests performed on volunteers using a rollator for mobility did reveal a few anomalies.

A rollator tends to bear the user's weight at the level of the hips, which can take much of the stress off the ankles and knees while walking. The problem with this shift in weight-bearing is a more limited range of motion over time. The rollator allows users to change direction more easily, but it does not necessarily encourage the natural body mechanics we all use to walk. This suggests that patients facing short-term rehabilitation may do better with crutches or a standard walker, while those with long-term mobility problems may find more benefit from a rollator.


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Post 1

I am preeti tanwar, a resident of India and have 1 query about rollator. Please tell me how can we measure the width of a rollator? what is the width criteria of rollator for lean, normal and obese persons.

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