There are some remarkable walking aids available today, providing superior mobility for users with difficulty getting around. A modern walking frames comes in three basic designs: a 2 wheel walking frame (Zimmer frames), 3 wheel walkers (tri walkers) and a 4 wheel walkers (rollators). Two wheel walking frames have been around for a long time and are an effective step up from the standard walking frame. Here, we help you decide between a 3 wheel walkers or 4 wheel rollators.
What are Tri Walkers and Rollators?
Tri walkers and rollators are similar to the typical walking frame but allow improved mobility with additional wheels. CareCo rollators are ergonomic, permitting control of movement, comfort and improved speed. Both types of walker greatly reduce the risk of falling.
Both the three wheel and the four wheel models provide stability when moving, but with the added bonus of a fluid and natural motion. Rollators are substantial in body but light in design with space enough for a basket or, in some cases, a seat.
In some cases, which rollator you choose will be a matter of personal choice, but there are functional differences too.
To avoid confusion, 3 wheel walkers are often called “tri walkers”, while 4 wheel walkers are referred to as “rollators”. The different names are often interchanged and used by different retailers, which does cause some confusion at times. But they are all essentially the same thing – a walking frame that has some wheels to further aid mobility. Let’s look at the pros and cons of 3 and 4 wheel walkers.
Advantages of 3 Wheel Walkers
- The first major advantage for users choosing a 3 wheel walker is that they have greater manoeuvrability. The third front wheel makes for much easier turning than you would get with a 4 wheel rollator
- With less mass in the frame, a three wheel rollator is lighter to move. If you have limited dexterity in your hands or little in the way of upper body strength but still want to get around quickly, a three wheel is rollator certainly for you
- Thirdly, and this is important to those who need a rollator, the gap between the front wheel and the back two wheels provide the perfect niche in which to put a bag. This reduces the pain and strain of carrying a bag by your side or on your back
- Pictured is the Liteway Tri-Walker, as recommended by occupational therapists
- Vist our CareCo Tri Walkers shop .
Disadvantages of 3 Wheel Walkers
- The first major drawback of this type of model is the lack of stability. If you need extra support or feel precarious on your feet (for example, have a habit of falling) then a three wheel walker may not be for you
- Secondly, there is not enough space for a seat on this type of model. Although there is enough space for a bag, some users need to sit down. A good quality rollator is often as much a portable seat as it is a walking aid
Advantages of 4 Wheel Walkers
- The 4 wheel walker will have enough space for a seat between the two sets of wheels. The larger frame offers the stability and comfort that when you tire of walking too far with your model, you can take a break. This is handy for those who want to be mobile but struggle to get around
- 4 wheel walkers are also sturdy compared to the tri walkers. The more weight you need to put on a rollator, the more support you are likely to need, the more likely you are to need a 4 wheel rollator
- 4 wheel walkers are better over uneven terrain where a three wheeler may lose some of that essential stability. The chances of a four wheel model tipping over on a slope are much smaller
- Pictured is the Secco 4 Rollator.
- Visit our Rollators shop for more options.
Disadvantages of 4 Wheel Rollators
- Three wheel walkers are great for turning, but four wheel rollators are rather cumbersome. Some users may struggle to turn when in a tight spot and when they have poor upper body strength. It may need to be lifted and turned manually
- The major and obvious disadvantage is the four-wheeler’s extra weight. Where the sturdiness gives you greater peace of mind, they are heavier to carry. Couple that with the lower manoeuvrability and a four wheeler could hinder some users
- Three wheel walking aids may be folded for transport, but four-wheel zimmer frames are difficult to put into a car to take away for the weekend. The weight advantage for stability reduces its flexibility
Walkers are one of the best ways to regain confidence in going out after having a fall. Even if you’ve never had a fall, if you feel that your legs are not as stable as they once were, and this has stopped you going out, then now is the time to get yourself a sturdy walking frame and head out and enjoy some regained independence. Visit our rollator and tri walker shop to find the perfect walking aid for you.
For more expert advice, read Natasha’s guide to walking aids.