Tips for Using a Knee Walker as an Alternative for Crutches

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Knee walkers (aka Knee Scooters) are a great alternative to traditional crutches or wheelchair. They are easier (and more fun?) to use for sure. Here are tips for how to use a knee walker to improve your mobility with a list of the best knee walkers on the market.

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Many patients are forced to use crutches to get around when dealing with foot pain or to recover from a medical procedure involving the feet.

And while crutches have their benefits, they can be a literal pain to use!

Some patients and their family members have found that a knee walker (also called a knee scooter) is a better alternative to crutches. And while they do take some getting used to, they can help patients get around more easily.

So, here are my tips for using a knee walker scooter.

What are Knee Walkers (aka Knee Scooters)

A knee walker, also known as a knee scooter, is basically a rolling, padded stool that acts as a knee rest while walking.

Most knee walkers have handlebars and brakes with a large padded horizontal surface for supporting the knee. Some also have baskets in which to carry items for the user.

Knee walkers usually have four wheels to provide a stable base on which the patient can lean while driving.

1. Know How to Use the Knee Walker Properly

Knee walkers operate much like toy scooters. They “glide” after the patient uses their non-injured foot to push on the ground to gain momentum and move either forward or backward.

These helpful walking aids are superior to traditional crutches because they allow greater freedom of movement and are easier to balance than crutches.

Crutches are also burdensome, heavy, and prone to slipping at the worst times.

Knee walkers avoid these pitfalls.

Balancing the knee scooter is the critical part of using a knee scooter properly. It’s best to balance your weight over the center of the knee walker.

Another important tip for using a knee scooter is always to keep your knee on the device. It might seem obvious, but you may be tempted to lift your knee from the walker as you move around.

2. Know the Limitations of a Knee Scooter

An important tip for using a knee scooter is to realize that the device is not meant for high-speed travel.

Knee walkers are medical devices. They are meant to replace traditional crutches – not to allow the patient to cruise down the street.

While not all patients will be tempted to try and hold races, young patients recovering from ankle injuries will often be tempted to treat knee walkers as a way to race their friends.

3. Use it at Home First

A knee scooter allows patients to get around the house while immobilizing the foot and ankle. It will also prevent patients from bumping or re-injuring their feet while still being able to move around.

Another benefit of using a knee scooter is that you can quickly wear yourself out moving from room to room using crutches, making tasks almost impossible to accomplish around the house.

With a knee walker, you can save energy that would otherwise be expended getting from room to room while recovering.

Once you’re feeling good enough to move around, a great piece of advice for using a knee scooter is to start with short trips once you decide to go outside the house.

Take it to a friend’s house or the corner drug store to figure out how to use the knee scooter outside your home before attempting to use it to go to the busy supermarket or the crowded mall.

What’s the Best Knee Walker for Outdoors?
See Our Top Picks

4. Use Your Medical Knee Scooter to Stay Active

Some patients might be tempted to use a wheelchair instead of trying to use crutches or a knee walker.

However, wheelchairs are bulky and hard to use, and most of the time, require another person to wheel the patient around, and who wants to be a burden to others while recovering?

Wheelchairs also discourage patients from getting up and moving around.

Knee walkers still allow patients to move around easily while taking pressure off the injured foot or ankle.

knee walker with handlebars

5. Don’t Use the Knee Walker As a Seat or Wheelchair

Knee walkers aren’t meant to be sat on – ever.

While it may look fun to straddle the padded seat and ride on your knee walker, it is unsafe to do so. Knee walkers can turn over easily due to their higher center of gravity. They could also roll away as you sit down, causing further injury.

A general rule is that you should never sit on your knee scooter!

6. Adjust Your Knee Scooter Properly

One of the biggest complaints people have with knee walkers is that they often get pain in their “good” leg from bumping into the walker. Or, their back starts to hurt after using it because they are hunched over and find it difficult to use.

Please don’t just accept these as part of using your knee walker!

Most issues with pain result from not adjusting the knee walker properly. Almost all medical supply stores have staff willing to assist you in adjusting your knee walker.

Here is a great video showing how to use and adjust a knee walker or knee scooter:

Proper Operation of Knee Scooter | Foot and Ankle Associates of North Texas

If you ordered yours online or from a non-specialized store, you could always speak with your doctor or physical therapist to assist you. Most doctor’s offices and physical therapists would be happy to help you get the most out of your knee scooter to speed up recovery.

7. Keep It in Peak Working Order

Check and maintain the nuts and bolts of the walker. It only takes a few minutes a few times a week to check that the bolts are still in place, and it will save you a much bigger headache down the road.

Wrapping Up

Knee walkers are a great alternative to traditional crutches or manual wheelchairs. If you’re recovering from an ankle or foot injury or care for someone who is, a knee walker may be right for you.

Talk to your doctor to see if a knee scooter is a good fit for you or a loved one. And please use these tips to make your recovery a more enjoyable experience!

Have you ever used a knee scooter or knee walker before? Do you have any tips or advice you would like to share? Please leave them in the comments below. And, if this article was helpful, please share it on your favorite social media!

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Senior Home Safety Specialist (SHSS)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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3 thoughts on “Tips for Using a Knee Walker as an Alternative for Crutches”

  1. Help. I need your advice. I have a broken right ankle and kneerover was recommended by doctor. I now have one but because I had a right knee replacement just a year ago, my knee hurts from the pressure on the seat.
    Can I raise the knee pad and use it as a seat????

    • Hi Janet! I would say no – do not use your knee walker/ knee scooter in a seated position. These devices have a high center of gravity and tip over quite easily. They are designed to be used standing up. Sorry!

  2. We got a KneeRover Quad All Terrain knee scooter for my husband, who is recovering from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon. It has 4, 12-inch pneumatic tires. He really likes it. It can fit in the backseat of a Ford Focus without folding. He can go out in the yard and to the firing range as well as get around in the house and office.

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