Three or four-wheeled walkers (or “rollators”) provide more support than walking sticks and are designed for those who:
– can walk reasonably well but need extra support over longer distances
– are at risk of falling when walking
– have difficulties with balance, strength, endurance or coordination
– have pain or instability in any weight-bearing joint
– need to rest often when walking
– are recovering from an injury
– wish to reduce the amount of assistance and support carers need to provide
Three-wheeled walkers are easy to manoeuvre but are less stable than four-wheeled models (which have a larger base of support) and are therefore only recommended for relatively stable users. They are generally designed for both indoor and outdoor use and feature either bicycle-style loop hand brakes or push down brakes.
The loop lever hand brakes feature levers that can be squeezed upwards to brake temporarily or pushed down to lock into place. Push down brakes work by pushing down through the handles which then pushes a spring-loaded rubber stopper, (located between the twin castor rear wheels), down onto the ground. When weight is removed from the handles the brakes will spring off. It is important to practice operating the brakes before selecting a walker.
When adjusting the height of a walking frame it is important to wear everyday shoes and stand in a natural position with hands resting comfortably on the sides of the body. In this position, the walking frame handgrips should sit approximately at wrist crease height. Four-wheeled walkers often come with a seat that is fixed in height so it is important to check that this is appropriate before making a purchase. When sitting on the seat in a comfortable position, feet should be resting flat on the ground.