Can You Use a Rollator As a Wheelchair?

There is a wide range of mobility assistance devices on the market that are all aimed to make getting around easier. Understanding the differences between them will allow you to select one based on your mobility needs and preferences. Rollators are walkers that are designed to be pushed easily by the user, while wheelchairs are meant for transportation while sitting. 

Can you use a rollator as a wheelchair? It cannot be used as a wheelchair because its construction is not as secure. The rollator seat is designed for resting but not for being pushed or for significant weight-bearing while moving. This could result in safety risks as they are not designed for full transport. 

While a rollator gives you the ability to sit in many cases, we will breakdown the risks associated with using a rollator as a wheelchair and what they are actually designed for. Because a rollator is much different from a wheelchair in design and function, you may be looking for something simple that can act as both. There are hybrid transportation chairs that can satisfy your needs more effectively.  

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Can You Be Pushed in a Rollator?

Many rollators come with a seat on them so that you can rest if necessary while walking. Because the seat is there, it may give you or others the idea that you can sit and be pushed in a rollator, acting as a dual-purpose alternative to a larger wheelchair. I tell a quick little story about my kids almost getting seriously injured by pushing each other here. This is not a safe strategy, and we do not recommend it for a variety of reasons. 

You should not be pushed in a rollator for a number of reasons: 

  1. Safety Concerns
  2. Lack of Comfort
  3. Difficulty to Maneuver 

Let’s dive into each of these categories in a bit more detail so you can better understand the risks of using a rollator as a wheelchair.  

  1. Safety Concerns of Being Pushed in a Rollator

Safety is of the greatest concern when attempting to use a rollator as a wheelchair. Pushing someone in a rollator can be dangerous because the structural integrity of the rolling walker could be compromised. These are the following safety concerns related to using a rollator as a wheelchair: 

  • Inability to bear weight: While a rollator will be able to handle the person’s weight while seated in a stationary position, the inclusion of movement puts more stress on the rollator. The construction of the seat is designed for resting rather than transportation with full human weight relying on it. If the welding or construction were to break, the person could become seriously injured. 
  • Foot or ankle injuries: When pushing someone in a rollator, there are typically no footrests for the person to place their feet. This means that they would have to keep their feet suspended in the air (which may not be possible or cause fatigue) or they could drag and lead to rolling or spraining of feet and ankles. 
  • Rolling: In the event that the wheels are not locked, and someone steps away while pushing, the rollator could roll backward or forwards, especially if on a slope. If someone loses control of the rollator with someone on it, this could lead to accidents. 

You can click on the link below for a nice selection of Rollators, manual wheelchairs and much more. This is a affiliate link and we may get commission from it. In their mobility section you will find affordable rollators and wheelchairs that I’m sure will fit your needs.

Quality Products for Seniors

We have a rollator buying guide in our recommended products page. You can read more about rollators along with recommendations with this link.

Being pushed in a rollator opens up the possibilities of more accidents, especially since the device is not designed for such activities. For a technology that is designed to keep people safe, it should be used properly with safety as the priority. Here you can find an informative video on how to use a rollator properly. 

Courtesy of Active Equipment Forum
  1. Lack of Comfort When Being Pushed in a Rollator 

Sitting on the seat of the rollator has a small backrest bar when you need a break, but this is not a comfortable position to sit in while moving over time. Because the rollator was designed for taking short breaks from walking to rest, it does not have ample back support or cushioning for extended sitting. It may also be difficult for one to sit back and be pushed this way. 

On most models, there are also no footrests for you to keep your feet up while it moves. It may not be possible for some people to keep their feet up, and this can also cause some dangers with them getting caught while the walker moves. For models that are designed to transport people, a major design feature is the addition of footrests for this comfort. 

You can find many 2 in 1 hybrid rollator wheelchairs at Amazon that are designed for walking and being transported. We recommend these for great levels of comfort as well as functionality. You will notice these come with footrests and better back support than traditional rollators. 

  1. Difficulty to Maneuver Someone Being Pushed in a Rollator

Because rollators are not designed to be pushed like a wheelchair, the person pushing may have some difficulty doing so. Especially because the handles for pushing are facing the opposite way for the walker capabilities. Without clear handles, it will be harder for someone to steer and control the rollator when pushing someone on it. 

To maintain the greatest levels of safety, if someone is being pushed, it should be simple and easy for the person to do so. This will ensure the most control and technology that is designed to transport people is available! 

My son in our rollator

What is A Rollator Designed For? 

If you do use a rollator, it should be used for its intended purpose. Rollators are a much easier way to use a walker as they have wheels on the legs. The ones you can sit on come with four wheels on each base, and this allows you to have ample support while walking without having to physically pick up the walker.

Rollators should be used only for walking and resting if there is a seat built into it. This is a small bench on the walker that also often serves as the cover to a basket for people to keep items while walking. Rollators are useful tools because: 

  • They make walking much easier: A rollator takes pressure off of your legs if they become easily fatigued while walking or extensive walking causes pain. They can also give you additional support if strength is needed. 
  • Built-in bench: Having somewhere to easily rest that will allow you to get up again easily is a key feature for four-wheeled rollators. If you become tired while walking, you can take a break. 
  • Standing assistance: Keeping the rollator near a bed or chair can be helpful in using the handles as leverage for standing and then allow for easy walking. 
  • Walking indoors or outdoors: The wheels are designed for both indoor and outdoor use, which makes it a versatile tool in multiple environments for walking assistance. 

Make sure when you are seated or using it as support from a stationary position that the wheels have been locked. This will keep the device from moving in the event that a significant amount of body weight is placed onto the rollator at different angles. You should be particularly careful of this on a sloped surface. 

Do Not Use a Rollator As a Wheelchair 

We do not recommend using a rollator as a wheelchair, primarily for the safety concerns that arise. If you are interested in a rolling walker that can also be used for full weight-bearing transportation, you will want to investigate looking at a hybrid device. These are designed for independence as a walker but also have the ability to be pushed after extended walking. 

Steven Abbey

Steven Abbey is a author for Senior Living Headquarters and owns a home in a retirement community. His wife owns a successful family business that has served tens of thousands of people. He also has a electrical technician degree.

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