- Walking Aids
Three Wheeled Walkers
Three Wheel Walkers
Three wheeled walkers are basically rollators with three wheels instead of the usual four. Instances where this might be an advantage are when the user frequently walks around areas with tight spaces. The three wheeled walkers tend to be easier to manoeuvre in small areas but can be a little less stable than the four wheeled models.
My issue with the three wheeled walkers is, if they hit an obstruction with the front wheel the chances of them flipping forward, either to the right or left, can be greater than the four wheeled walkers. This shouldn't be a big issue if the user is aware of this and physically has the balance and ability to deal with this unlikely, but possible, event.
As with any other walker style, I feel the user should actually try the walker, or have previous experience with the style, they are purchasing for safety.
Common Features of Rollators
- Wheels - Three wheeled walkers, of course, always have 3 wheels and they are usually about 8" in diameter to more easily roll over small obstacles and rougher terrain. There will be one wheel on the front leg of the three wheel walker that swivels and two on the back legs that have some sort of braking system. Three wheeled walkers can have either solid tires so flat tires won't be an issue or air filled tires for a smoother ride on rough terrain.
- Brakes - Three wheel walkers will also have a braking system similar to the hand brakes on a bicycle that will slow the walker or stop it when squeezed. In addition to working like a conventional brake system, rollator brake systems will have a way of being locked on for safety during different situations.
- Seats - Three wheel walkers do not have seats for resting when the user gets tired.
- Baskets and Walker Bags - Most three wheel walkers have either a basket or a carry pouch so the user take items along with them.
- Folding Frames - Because it is expected by the manufacturer that these walkers will be taken to different locations and must be loaded into vehicles they all have some type of folding mechanism. Baskets and bags are always removable and may have to be to fold the walker.
Setting the proper height for a walker is important for the comfort, safety and posture of the user. Generally the top of the walker's hand grips should be at the same height as the user's wrist where it meets the hand when the user is standing as upright as they can. The important thing is there should be a small bend in the user's elbow when using the walker.
Unlike the standard walkers where the handle height is adjusted by moving the wheels up and down, most three wheeled rollator walkers are adjusted by adjusting the handles up and down.
Using the three wheel walker is pretty straight forward. The user has the walker in front of them, steps into it from the rear and pushes it forward at the same time. The pace is fairly conventional for walking instead of the stop and go pace of a standard walker without wheels. Because the front wheel will swivel, the walker should never have to be picked up by the user while in use.
The user can operate the brakes while walking to slow down and stop or locked on.
The walker is not intended to take all of the weight of he user but some weight can be transferred off the legs when walking forward and providing balance when needed. Some people have trouble with three wheeled walkers, especially the lighter models, because they can get away from people when they are using them. People with forward balance issues sometimes can have trouble because they push the walker too far forward, too fast and can't catch up with it. The faster they try and walk to catch up with the walker, the faster and farther away the walker goes. Travelling down ramps and hills may aggravate this behaviour.
There are only a couple of accessories available for these three wheeled walkers.
- Cup Holders - Cup holders are pretty much an after market item but really the only way to carry a drink on a walker without spilling it. One bump when carrying a drink on a tray and you'll be heading back to the kitchen for a refill.
- Cane Holders - One might wonder why a person using a walker would need to bring along with them but for those who are able to use a cane for short distances, but need a walker for longer distances, having a cane with them is an asset. Getting into a small bathrooms, voting booths, narrow aisles, change rooms and other small places is often difficult, if not impossible, for someone using a three wheeled walker.