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Can you use a Rollator as a Wheelchair?/use Transport chair instead

The simple answer is “Sometimes”. If you want a more comprehensive answer to this question, you need to look at the various features of a wheelchair compared to a rollator. From this, you can usually decide which one you need depending on your mobility problems and your budget.

What is a Rollator designed for?

For those of you who perhaps haven’t seen a rollator before. They are essentially the same as a walker but with wheels instead of feet at the bottom of each leg. Other minor differences make using a rollator more of a pleasant experience than using a walker. However, you can read more in this buyer’s guide to the best walkers for seniors.

A rollator can have three wheels or four depending on what you want the device for. Mostly the three-wheeled versions are narrower than the rest so are more useful when used indoors. In fact, some three-wheelers can be partially folded to make it even narrower for particularly small doorways.

A rollator sometimes has a seat and backrest incorporated into its design and some even have baskets or bags to carry your belongings and shopping.

They are designed for seniors and those with mobility issues, so they can walk easily with the support they need. If we become tired we can stop and rest for a while on the integrated seat (if it has one). They are easier to use on rough terrain than a walker because the user doesn’t have to lift the frame, they just need to roll it along in front.

Can you sit on the rollator?                         

You can sit on a rollator if you have bought the correct model. As stated earlier some have three wheels and some four. Those with three wheels generally don’t have integral seats, while most of the four-wheelers do. The seats vary in quality as well. Some are cushioned and contoured for a comfortable rest period while others use a hard molded plastic seat. The difference depends on the type you have chosen and the price you bought it for.

There are limits as to the weight that each rollator will safely carry. So, if you are overweight, it’s wise to check with the manufacturer or retailer that you don’t exceed the safe load for the seat or rollator. The seat will also either be fixed or adjustable (depending on the model), so if you are exceptionally tall or short, it might be worthwhile choosing one with an adjustable seat. Unfortunately, as with many other mass-produced items, they are usually designed for a standard-sized person. But, if you look around you will often find models that are adjustable within a certain range.

What is the difference between a wheelchair and rollator?

The best way to discuss this is to look at the types of features a rollator has when compared to a wheelchair.

Wheels

A wheelchair generally has two large wheels at the back and two tiny wheels at the front. The rear wheels are on an axle and have attached hand wheels so that you can self propel the chair. You can self steer by propelling the large wheels at different speeds or in different directions.

On the other hand, you can only propel a rollator by pushing one. Likewise, you can only steer a rollator by pushing the handlebars in the direction you want to go.

Rolators usually have wheels larger than eight inches in diameter on all four legs allowing the user to push it over the uneven ground if needed.

Seat

A rollator has either a padded and contoured seat, a sling seat,  or a hard molded plastic seat. The type you choose is purely a matter of choice and how much you want to spend. If possible, avoid the hard plastic seats as they are generally very uncomfortable.

Usually, wheelchairs have sling seats but have the option to add a cushion.  This feature is to make it easier to fold the chair for transport.

Easy to fold

Even when you or a carer folds a wheelchair ready for transporting in a car or on a bus, it still takes up quite a lot of room compared with the rollator. Conversely, a rollator is more lightweight than a wheelchair and often comes with a carrying bag.

Do you need a wheelchair or a rollator?

The answer to this question is whether you can walk or not. If you have no use in your legs or have very limited mobility, you will need to have a wheelchair. If however, it’s beneficial for you to exercise and use your legs whenever possible then you should choose a rollator/transport chair.

Remember, even with a standard rollator you’re able to stop and rest if you need to. If you’re going for a walk or are in a large airport, it’s no problem to lock the wheels and sit for a while on the integral seat.

But, if you want the luxury of a wheelchair and have someone to push you along, then choose a transport chair. It will make al the difference and you’ll be able to use it in either mode.

Use Transport chair instead

If you want a rollator that will double as a wheelchair, you need to look for a Transport Chair. These differ from regular rollator in many ways.

  • A transport chair is probably more expensive than a regular rollator. However, the freedom a transport chair gives the user more than justifies the additional cost.
  • The rollator can be easily and quickly transformed into a transport chair. Once you’ve transformed the rollator, you have the equivalent of a lightweight wheelchair, perfect for use if you start to tire while out on a walk with friends.
  • The transport chair is significantly lighter than a wheelchair. It is, therefore, easier to lift in and out of a car trunk. With one of these, you’ll be ready for a trip just about anywhere. On a train, in an airplane or by sea. You can even go to the local store for groceries. Some transport chairs fold smaller than a traditional wheelchair and come with storage and carry bags.
  • The all-in-one transport chair and rollator are great if you are convalescing from an illness or surgery. After a surgery like a knee or hip replacement, you will want to start with the transition chair and then as you recover and get your strength back in your legs, you’ll be able to change to its rollator configuration.

What’s next?

If you liked this post and you want to read more you should check this guide to mobility aids for seniors.

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