So, you have recently undergone a foot and ankle surgery. Your orthopaedic doctor tells you that you have to remain non-weightbearing for a period of weeks after the surgery.
What does non-weightbearing mean?
Non-weightbearing, as defined by the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS), refers to the restrictions placed on the foot and ankle after surgery. This means that the operated foot and ankle must not be placed on the floor even for one second when seated or standing.
Importance of non-weightbearing
According to the AOFAS, non-weightbearing is important for the following reasons:
- Prevent Damage
Placing the foot and ankle on the floor can damage the repair that was done.
- Heal the Bones
It is important for the bones to heal. Putting weight too soon can disrupt the healing process of the bones.
- Heal Surgical Wounds
Like the bones, surgical wounds similarly need time to heal. Putting pressure on these wounds can interrupt this healing process.
- Reduce Swelling
Swelling is common after surgery. Adding weight to the swelling will not help the tissues heal faster.
- Control Pain
Keeping off the weight helps control pain.
In order to keep the operated foot and ankle non-weightbearing, orthopaedic surgeons often prescribed the knee walker.
The knee walker, also known as knee scooter, is similar to a scooter. It has a raised, padded surface at knee height. In this padded surface, the weak knee – the operated foot and ankle side – is placed. The user of this mobility device gets around by using the strong leg. This device has a steering post and a hand break to provide stability as well as for the user to control the device.
The following are the advantages of using a knee walker:
- Great alternative to crutches
Users of this assistive tool are freed from sore armpits and arms that are normally associated with crutches. A study by Roberts and Carnes found that this medical tool requires 25% less energy expenditure than crutches.
- Frees the hands
When the user is not moving, the user of this mobility tool can do other tasks such as cooking.
- Ideal for young and old alike
This tool can be prescribed to users as young as 5 years old and as old as 95.
- Helps in the healing process
Taking the weight off the weak lower extremity helps in the healing process.
- Prevents further injury
The support provided by this assistive technology prevents further injury to the foot and ankle.
- Easy to get around
It is easy to get around with this mobility aid. It can be maneuvered in tight spaces and open spaces.
- Preserves muscle bulk and bone strength
This assistive product enables the user to safely and independently move around. This constant movement preserves the muscle bulk and bone strength near the injured leg.
- Looks cooler
Compared to crutches and wheelchairs, knee walkers such as the knee walkers by Patterson Medical are much cooler to look at.