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Ambulant vs. Ambulatory — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Urooj Arif — Updated on April 8, 2024
"Ambulant" describes someone able to walk, often used in medical contexts, while "ambulatory" refers to walking or moving, and also describes facilities designed for walking patients.
Ambulant vs. Ambulatory — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Ambulant and Ambulatory


Key Differences

Ambulant is an adjective specifically describing a person who is able to walk, especially after being unable to do so due to illness or injury. It's often used in medical and healthcare settings to describe patients who are not bedridden and can move about. On the other hand, ambulatory is a broader term that not only describes the ability to walk but also pertains to anything designed for walking. In healthcare, ambulatory care refers to services provided to those who do not require hospital admission, highlighting services and facilities for patients who are mobile.
Ambulant emphasizes the capability of individuals to walk, suggesting a focus on the person's physical condition or recovery process. This term is particularly relevant in contexts like rehabilitation, where the ability to walk signifies a milestone in patient recovery. Conversely, ambulatory extends to describe services and facilities, such as ambulatory surgery centers, where treatments are given on an outpatient basis, and patients can leave the facility on the same day.
The use of ambulant is more common in specific regions and medical documents to describe patient mobility status. Ambulatory, however, is widely used across healthcare systems to refer to a range of services and settings designed for patients who are not bedbound, including clinics, outpatient departments, and medical procedures that do not require an overnight hospital stay.
While ambulant status might change as a person recovers or experiences changes in their physical condition, ambulatory care represents a sector of healthcare dedicated to treating walking patients. This distinction highlights the dynamic nature of individual health status versus the static concept of healthcare service types.
In everyday language, ambulatory can also refer to the act of walking itself, not limited to medical or healthcare contexts. It describes walking activities or capacities in a general sense, whereas ambulant remains closely associated with the medical condition of being able to walk after a period of incapacity.

Comparison Chart


Able to walk, especially after illness or injury.
Related to walking; also, healthcare services for the mobile.


Medical, describing patient mobility.
Broader healthcare sector, walking activities.


Individual's ability to walk.
Services and facilities for those able to walk.

Common Use

Rehabilitation, patient recovery status.
Outpatient services, clinics, walking activities.

Associated with

Recovery, mobility improvement.
Healthcare services, movement, activities.

Compare with Definitions


Ambulant individuals may still require support.
Although ambulant, he used a cane for better stability.


The term applies to walking activities beyond healthcare.
Ambulatory exercises are recommended for cardiovascular health.


This term is used to describe mobility improvement.
His ambulant status was updated in his medical records.


Ambulatory settings include clinics and outpatient departments.
Ambulatory surgery centers offer same-day surgical care.


It focuses on the recovery aspect of mobility.
After weeks of therapy, she was finally ambulant.


Ambulatory refers to the ability to walk or move about.
Ambulatory patients attend the clinic for regular check-ups.


Ambulant status is important in rehabilitation settings.
Being ambulant is a key recovery goal for many patients.


It describes healthcare services for walking patients.
The ambulatory care unit handles various outpatient procedures.


Ambulant describes a person who is able to walk after an illness.
The patient was ambulant and could navigate the hallway without assistance.


Ambulatory care is crucial for non-bedridden patients.
She received her treatment through the hospital's ambulatory services.


Moving or walking about.


The ambulatory (Latin: ambulatorium, ‘walking place’) is the covered passage around a cloister or the processional way around the east end of a cathedral or large church and behind the high altar. The first ambulatory was in France in the 11th century but by the 13th century ambulatories had been introduced in England and many English cathedrals were extended to provide an ambulatory.The same feature is often found in Indian architecture and Buddhist architecture generally, especially in older periods.


Able to walk.


Of, relating to, or adapted for walking.


Designed for use by somebody with a disability that impairs, but does not prevent, walking.
An ambulant toilet


Capable of walking; not bedridden
An ambulatory patient.


A patient who is able to walk.


Designed for or available to patients who are not bedridden
Ambulatory care.
Ambulatory pediatrics.


Walking; moving from place to place.


Moving about; itinerant.


Able to walk about;
The patient is ambulatory


(Law) Relating to that which can be changed or revoked, as a will during the life of the testator.


An aisle around the back side of the chancel in a cathedral or other large church.


A covered place for walking, as in a cloister.


Of, relating to, or adapted to walking.
Ambulatory exercise


Able to walk about and not bedridden.
An ambulatory patient


(medicine) Performed on or involving an ambulatory patient or an outpatient.
An ambulatory electrocardiogram
Ambulatory medical care


Accustomed to move from place to place; not stationary; movable.
An ambulatory court, which exercises its jurisdiction in different places


(law) Not yet legally fixed or settled; alterable.
The dispositions of a will are ambulatory until the death of the testator.


The round walkway encircling the altar in many cathedrals.


Any part of a building intended for walking in; a corridor.


Of or pertaining to walking; having the faculty of walking; formed or fitted for walking; as, an ambulatory animal.


Accustomed to move from place to place; not stationary; movable; as, an ambulatory court, which exercises its jurisdiction in different places.
The priesthood . . . before was very ambulatory, and dispersed into all families.


Pertaining to a walk.
The princess of whom his majesty had an ambulatory view in his travels.


Not yet fixed legally, or settled past alteration; alterable; as, the dispositions of a will are ambulatory until the death of the testator.


A place to walk in, whether in the open air, as the gallery of a cloister, or within a building.


Able to walk about;
The patient is ambulatory

Common Curiosities

Can a service be both ambulant and ambulatory?

Yes, a service can be both if it is designed for patients who are able to walk (ambulant) and is provided on an outpatient basis (ambulatory).

What kinds of treatments are offered in ambulatory care?

Ambulatory care can include diagnostics, minor surgical procedures, consultations, and treatments that do not require hospitalization.

What does ambulant mean in medical terms?

In medical terms, ambulant refers to a person who is able to walk, especially highlighting recovery from an illness or injury.

Is ambulant used only in healthcare?

While primarily used in healthcare to describe a person's mobility status, ambulant can be applied in any context discussing the ability to walk.

Can ambulatory refer to non-human movement?

While typically referring to human movement, ambulatory can be used to describe the walking behavior of animals in scientific contexts.

How is ambulatory care different from inpatient care?

Ambulatory care is provided to patients who are mobile and do not require overnight hospital stays, while inpatient care involves admission and overnight stays for treatment.

What role do ambulatory surgery centers play in healthcare?

Ambulatory surgery centers provide a convenient and efficient option for patients to undergo surgical procedures without the need for hospital admission.

Can an ambulant person require assistance?

Yes, an ambulant person may still require assistance, such as using a cane or walker, to ensure stability and safety while walking.

How does ambulant status impact rehabilitation?

Ambulant status is a significant milestone in rehabilitation, indicating progress and enabling participation in further physical therapy activities.

Why is being ambulant important for patients?

Being ambulant is crucial for a patient's independence, recovery, and the ability to participate in various treatments and activities.

Is there a difference in the use of ambulant and ambulatory across regions?

Yes, the preference for using ambulant or ambulatory can vary by region, particularly in medical terminology and healthcare systems.

Are ambulatory services more cost-effective?

Yes, ambulatory services are often more cost-effective than inpatient care, as they reduce the need for overnight hospital stays.

What is the significance of ambulatory care in modern healthcare?

Ambulatory care plays a critical role in modern healthcare by providing accessible, efficient, and often less costly treatments to mobile patients.

How do healthcare providers assess ambulant status?

Healthcare providers assess ambulant status through physical examinations, mobility tests, and monitoring of a patient's ability to walk independently.

Can ambulatory services include emergency care?

Yes, some ambulatory services can include urgent care centers or outpatient emergency services for immediate but non-life-threatening conditions.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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