Knee walkers and crutches are two options to consider for maintaining mobility especially when non-weightbearing is required.
Non-weightbearing is the term used to the restriction of placing an injured foot on the floor. Many orthopaedic foot and ankle specialists are prescribing knee walkers over crutches. Here are the top 10 reasons why knee walkers are better than crutches:
- Prevent fatigue
- Walkers use less energy than crutches. A study by Paul Roberts and Susan Carnes found that walkers required 25% less energy expenditure than crutches.
- Greater freedom
- The hands cannot be used when using crutches. When using the scooter during standing, the hands can be used for reaching objects or for cooking.
- Prevent soreness of the hands, axilla and chest wall
- Unlike the crutches, this assistive technology does not cause soreness of the chest wall, hands and axilla.
- Easy to use
- Balance and stability is difficult to achieve when using crutches. With the orthopaedic scooters though, it is easy to achieve balance and stability due to the way it is built – whereby one just have to place the injured leg on the padded seat of the device.
- Equal distribution of body weight
- In crutches, the body weight is not evenly distributed. With walkers though, the body weight is equally distributed on both legs.
- Preserve bone strength and muscle bulk
- The muscles near the injured leg are significantly used. This, in effect, preserves the bone strength and muscle bulk.
- Valuable for rehabilitation
- Surgeries or injuries in the lower limb need time to heal. During this healing period, non-weightbearing through the use of a knee walker is essential.
- Better alternative to bed rest or contact plasters
- For patients with diabetic plantar ulcers, this assistive technology is a better alternative to bed rest or contact plasters.
- No arm and shoulder pressure
- Users of crutches need greater arm and shoulder strength. This is not the case in orthopeadic scooters as less strength is needed.
Basic Knee Walker
A knee walker, also known as orthopaedic scooter, is basically a device with a knee pad and 3 or 4 wheels. The Generation 2 Weil knee walker, for instance, has 3 wheels; while the Knee Walkers by Patterson Medical have 4 wheels.
To use this equipment, you simply place your weak knee on the cushioned seat and move yourself forward by using the handle bars for balance and for steering. This equipment comes with a handbrake for essential stops. It also comes with accessories such as a basket for storing important personal belongings and a cup holder for coffee or some healthier alternatives.
Remember, this equipment is a medical device. Never allow children to use this. Also limit your walking speed to 3 miles per hour or equivalent to slow to moderate walking speed for safety.