What’s the Difference Between a Walker & Rollator?

the Difference Between a Walker & Rollator, NOVA walkers

What’s the difference between a rollator and a walker? Rollators have four wheels, a built-in seat for easy mobility and rest breaks and locking hand brakes, making them ideal for outdoor use. Walkers typically have two or no wheels and offer more stability and support for t hose needing to lean heavily on their aid. NOVA has a wide selection of walkers and rollators to choose from, read on for more details to determine which features are right for you.

Walkers and rollators are life-changing mobility aids that can truly empower people who are dealing with limited or transitioning mobility. If you’re caring for someone who could benefit from using one, then you’ll need to decide whether a walker or rollator is the best option for them!

Both walkers and rollators come in all sorts of different shapes, builds, and configurations, but the table below can give you a general comparison.

nova grey folding walker
  • No wheels, or 2 wheels on the front legs
  • No built-in seat
  • More compact and lightweight
  • Better at supporting weight
nova rollator
  • 4 wheels
  • Wheels are larger and more rugged
  • Built-in seat for resting
  • Handbrakes
  • Bulkier and heavier than walkers

Now you know the difference between a walker and rollator—but how do you know which one is better suited for you or your loved one?

Benefits of Using a Walker

Let’s take a look at the key benefits of a walker:

  • Gives More Support: If your loved one needs to lean heavily on their mobility aid, or use it for sitting down / rising up (from a chair or couch), then a walker might be the better option because it will have a more ergonomic build for weight-bearing.
  • Doesn’t Require a Strong Grip: If your loved one doesn’t have a strong grip (especially if they’re dealing with arthritis) then they might have difficulty squeezing the handbrakes on a rollator. For that reason, a walker might be safer and more comfortable to use. (But it’s worth mentioning that NOVA’s hand brakes require only minimal hand strength.)
  • Do NOT Use Tennis Balls :  Though it is common and a ubiquitous symbol of walkers, Do NOT Use Tennis Balls on Folding Walkers. It is unsafe, unsanitary and unattractive. While tennis balls were never designed or intended for folding walkers, people often put them on the rear legs of the walker to help it maneuver. Much better, safer and more attractive than tennis balls are NOVA’s Walker Skis, that are specifically designed for folding walkers. They also come with slipper covers for use on wood floors.

NOVA Walker Skis in action on the pavement.

Felt covers for even easier gliding with our Walker Skis.

  • Useful Accessory Options: If the folding walker is the better option, there are many accessory options that can make the folding walker function much better and significantly enhance the usage for the person’s lifestyle. Food trays can make transporting food so much easier and give the user much more independence. Staying hydrated is essential and cup holders can easily attach to the folding walker to carry and transport water and drinks. For storage and style, there are baskets and bags. For users that also use a cane, a cane holder can easily attach to the walker to keep the cane with the walker.

Check out all the amazing ways you can customize a simple Folding Walker!

Related Blog: Why You Should Always Take Your Walker for a Test Drive First

Benefits of Using a Rollator

Now let’s take a look at the key benefits of a rollator:

  • Easier Movement: Rollators have wheels, so they’re super easy to move around with. They can turn corners with ease, can roll over small bumps and are better suited to navigate outdoor terrain.  And because they have 4 wheels, they come with locking hand brake that allow you to control the speed and also park the brake in a locked position.  
  • Great to Use Outdoors: Rollators make it easy to spend time outside the home because they offer so much stability and ease of movement. They’re also equipped with resting seats, so your loved one can sit down for a little while if they need a short break from walking. It is very important to use the seat for stationary sitting ONLY – with the brakes engaged in the locked position.  You cannot sit and scoot around or be pushed in the rollator. This is very dangerous and very unsafe.  Be sure to review the warning stickers and user guides for proper usage and warnings prior to use. 
  • Useful Accessory Options: Rolling Walkers also have great accessory options that can enhance and optimize the rollator use and lifestyle of the user. Similar to folding walkers, there are cup holders, cane holders, mobility bags and even a travel bag for rolling walkers. You can even add stylish seat and back covers to really customize the rollator look. 

Related Blog: Five Fall Risk Areas In & Out of the Home

Choosing Between a Walker and Rollator

There’s only one way to figure out whether a walker or rollator is better for you or your loved one: you or they need the opportunity to test out both of them.

Shopping for a mobility aid is similar to shopping for a new car or pair of shoes; you don’t know what feels best until you take them for a spin.  Go for a NOVA Test Drive!  

For the best shopping experience, you can visit a local pharmacy or HME store that partners with NOVA. These excellent stores will offer a wide variety of NOVA walkers and rollators that your loved one can try out, and their staff are prepared to provide you expert education and answer any questions you might have!

Use our Dealer Locator to find a NOVA retailer near you!

Do you manage an independent pharmacy or HME store? Learn the benefits of stocking NOVA products as part of our partner network.

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