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Tips for Using a Knee Walker as an Alternative for Crutches

Summary (TL;DR):

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.

Here are my Top Picks:

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When dealing with foot pain or recovering from a medical procedure involving the feet, many patients are forced to use crutches to get around. And while crutches have their benefits, they can be a literal pain to use! Some patients and their family members have found that using a type of walker called a knee walker (also called a knee scooter) is a better alternative for crutches. And while they do take some getting used to, they can help patients get around easier. So, here are my tips for using a knee walker.

using knee walkers as crutch alternative

What are Knee Walkers (aka Knee Scooters)

Knee walkers are basically a rolling, padded stepstool that allows the patient to rest their knee while walking. Most knee walkers have handlebars or another way to steer. Most even come with brakes. Some also have baskets in which to carry items for the user. Knee walkers usually have either three or four wheels to provide a stable base on which the patient can lean on while driving. You can read more details about knee walkers in this article.

1. Know How to Properly Use the Knee Walker

Knee walkers operate much like a toy scooter. 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 a greater freedom of movement and are easier to balance than crutches. Crutches are also burdensome, heavy, and are prone to slipping at the worst times. Knee walkers avoid these pitfalls.

Balancing on the knee scooter is the most important part of using the device. It’s best to balance your weight over the center of the knee walker. Another one of the important tips for using a knee walker is to always keep your knee on the device. It might seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget to keep your knee on the walker as you’re moving around.

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

2. Know the Limitations of a Knee Walker

An important tip for using a knee walker is realizing 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 that are 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

Most doctors recommend that patients keep their foot or ankle elevated after an injury. It is almost impossible to accomplish this while using crutches. A knee walker will allow patients to get around the house while still keeping the foot and ankle immobilized. It will also prevent patients from bumping or re-injuring their foot while still be able to move around.

The other great part of using a knee scooter is that you can easily 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 on recovery.

Once you’re feeling good enough to move around, a great piece of advice for using a knee walker is to start with short trips once you decide to go outside the house. Take it to a friend’s house or to the corner drug store to figure out how to use the knee walker outside the comfort of your home before attempting to use it to go to the supermarket or to the mall.

4. Use the Knee Walker to Stay Active

Some patients might be tempted to just 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, taking pressure off of the injured foot or ankle, but don’t require the patient to simply sit around all day.

knee walker with handlebars
5. Don’t Use the Knee Walker for Balance When Sitting

Getting up and sitting down will still take some getting used to with a knee walker. But, NEVER use the knee walker to get into sitting positions. NEVER use the walker to pull yourself upright or for balance while sitting. Knee scooters are top heavy and it may tumble over and pull you over in the process. Use the arms of the chair instead.

6. Adjust Your Knee Walker To Fit

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 from operating your knee walker are a result of not adjusting the knee walker properly. Almost all medical supply stores have staff that will be willing to assist you in adjusting your knee walker. If you order your knee walker online or from a non-specialized store, you can 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 walker in order to speed up recovery.

7. Keep It in Peak Working Order

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

Best Knee Walker Reviews

Features

  • Ideal for individuals recovering from injury or surgery to the foot, ankle or lower leg as well as below the knee amputees. The steerable Knee Scooter is one of the most proven and trusted knee walkers in the industry and an excellent crutch alternative.
  • Excellent stability and control when maneuvering - These steerable knee walkers offer an adjustable locking handbrake and rear drum brake.
  • Ideal for indoor and outdoor use, the steerable Knee Scooter kneeling walker features four 7.5 inch non-marking rubber wheels, a comfortable 3.5&Quot; thick contoured knee platform that is left or right-leg compatible, and a free basket.
  • The steerable Knee Scooter also features handlebars with a quick folding mechanism for easy transport and storage. Dual ankle design for extreme durability
  • Fully adjustable handlebars and knee platform, this lightweight yet sturdy knee walker offers a robust 300 lb. Weight capacity and is recommended for individuals with heights 5' - 6'6

KneeRover is one of the most popular brands of knee scooters, making all kinds with alternative or deluxe features. This is their best selling knee walker, and it’s incredibly highly rated by users. It is a steerable roller with two braking systems – one at the front with an adjustable locking handbrake, and another rear disc brake.

The handlebars are ergonomic and fold in easily for storage purposes, and despite its compact build, it can hold a whopping 300 lbs., so it’s suitable for seniors of any size. The knee pad is 3.5 inches thick and contoured to fit either knee. This knee roller also comes with a free basket to store your things and bring them along with you outside!

In terms of outdoor features, the wheels of this knee scooter are designed for indoor or outdoor use. The four wheels are 7.5 inches each, and made out of rubber that won’t markup any surfaces. The rubber is tough enough to be durable and handle outdoor conditions as well.


Features

  • Ideal for individuals recovering from foot surgery, breaks, sprains, amputation, and ulcers of the foot
  • Knee walker can be steered for increased maneuverability; steering column folds for storage
  • Leg pad with "channel" provides added stability and comfort
  • Tool-free height adjustment of seat and handle
  • Handle Height: 33"-37.5"; Knee Pad Dimensions: 14.25"(L) x 7.25"(W) x 17.5"-21.5"(H); Weight Capacity: 300 lbs

Drive Medical is another well-known senior mobility brand, making everything from wheelchair/walker combinations to this great knee walker. The advantage of this model is that the wheels are slightly bigger, at 8 inches each. They’re also made out of rubber.

Other than that, this knee walker can also hold about 300 pounds. It’s made out of aluminum, which is a very sturdy, durable material. It also has easily adjustable height features, as it doesn’t need any tools to adjust the height of the seat or the handles, both of which can be adjusted individually to fit seniors of any size. The steering column folds up for easy storage as well, and this knee walker is also slightly cheaper than my first pick.


Features

  • Ideal for small adults and kids recovering from injury or surgery to the foot, ankle or lower leg as well as below the knee amputees. The All Terrain KneeRover Jr is an excellent alternative to crutches and offers the most versatility among knee walkers.
  • Indoor - Outdoor All Terrain knee scooter features 9 inch pneumatic tires - perfect for navigating your home, work, and any terrain with ease - including grass, gravel, dirt and gaps in sidewalks. Note: you will need to inflate tires upon receiving the unit
  • These steerable knee walkers offer an advanced automotive style tie-rod steering mechanism and NEW KneeRover Stabilizer training wheel for maximum stability and control.
  • Fully adjustable knee platform and handle bars with easy folding mechanism for simple transport and storage of rolling knee walker.Powerful, Durable and Agile
  • Heavy duty double bar construction offers unprecedented strength and stability for a knee scooter. All Terrain KneeRover knee walker offers a 250 lb. weight capacity and is recommended for individuals with heights 4'3" - 5'9".

If you need something a little smaller than the model above, this knee roller is made for more petite adults who still need that added knee support and maneuverability. Ironically, this model also has the largest, most heavy duty wheels out of all of my picks! The wheels are indoor/outdoor all-terrain pneumatic tires, measuring 9 inches tall. They can navigate anything from tile or hardwood floor without scuffing it, to gravel, dirt, and gaps in sidewalks easily.

They knee platform and handlebars are all fully adjustable, and the double bar construction of the device itself gives it extra stability and control. It has about a 250 lb. weight capacity, and is suitable for adults ranging from 4’3” to 5’9”.


Features

  • DESIGNED TO FIT MOST KNEE WALKERS AND KNEE SCOOTERS. Dimensions are: 14" x 8" x 4" installed
  • EASY TO INSTALL: Stretchable elastic securely fits over knee pad for superior comfort and better air circulation
  • MAXIMUM COMFORT: Soft and cozy sheepette fleece cover provides extra cushion while distributing pressure evenly across knee pad platform
  • EASY CARE: Machine Washable cover is easy to clean - simply remove cover and put in washing machine and fluff dry
  • PROTECTION & RELIEF: Helps reduce pressure, friction, and skin irritation; while reducing everyday wear and tear on the knee pad

Looking for a little extra comfort out of your knee walker? Sometimes the rubber padded cushion just isn’t enough, especially if you have knee pain. If this is the case for you, check out knee pad covers like this one. It’s made out of soft, comfortable sheepette fleece to add warmth, comfort, and extra softness. It acts as a second cushion for your knee, reducing friction on the skin and distributing pressure more evenly across the cushion. It’s easy to install, with a simple elastic edge that grasps onto the knee platform of the roller. It’s also washing washable as an added plus.


Wrapping Up

Knee walkers are a great alternative to traditional crutches or using a manual wheelchair. If you’re recovering from an ankle or foot injury, or care for someone who is or will be recovering from surgery or other medical procedures, a knee walker may be right for you. Talk to your doctor to see if a knee walker 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 on your favorite social media!

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About Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

Assistive Technology Professional, Custom Wheelchair Specialist, Medical Equipment Guru, Dad and Grandfather | I am a lucky dad to four awesome daughters and grandfather to three pretty terrific grandkids. When not working as a custom wheelchair specialist at a regional home medical equipment company, I enjoy early morning runs and occasional kayak trips. I am also a self-admitted nerd who loves anything from the 1980's.

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