So you’ve been told you will need to stay off your foot or ankle for an extended period of time. This could be due to surgery, injury or a wound. If you’ve used crutches you know how difficult they can be to use and the limitations they put on your lifestyle. Don’t be condemned to crutches. You have choices. Perhaps your healthcare provider suggested a knee scooter or a knee walker. You’ve searched the Internet and are left with even more questions.
This article will outline what a knee scooter is, features to consider with the device and services to consider with the supplier.
What is a Knee Scooter
A Knee Scooter is a wheeled cart-like device that completely unloads (takes weight off) the user’s lower limb as they bear weight on their knee. It is also commonly referred to as a knee walker.
Features to Consider:
While all knee scooters are similar in basic function there are important design features that directly impact safety, comfort and mobility.
Does it turn? The original model required the user to lift the front to pivot left or right. Not only did this take strength, but balance which can often be compromised due to medications (i.e. painkillers). Newer models turn like a bicycle to improve safety and ease of use. This feature is so vital that some insurance companies will not reimburse for non-steerable (non-turning) models and many suppliers no longer offer them. Beware of models that use caster like wheels similar to those found on a shopping cart (scootersleuth.com/reviews/best-knee-scooters/) as these can unexpectedly move sideways (laterally away from you), causing your legs to split apart and maybe even fall.
How big are the wheels? The bigger the wheels, the easier it will be to move through carpet or over uneven surfaces like cracks in the sidewalks or thresholds of a doorway. Small wheels will stop abruptly when they encounter a crack or obstacle. Some insurance companies will not cover units with wheels smaller than five inches in diameter. Large or fat off road tires are available but are rarely necessary as they are intended for rough terrain or for soft sand. The ideal standard is the eight-inch wheels.
How stable is the unit? Safety is paramount in any unit. Stability comes from both the width of the unit and the offset of the knee platform. The higher-end models allow the knee platform to be easily offset towards your good leg. Not only does this allow more of the unit to support your injured leg, it also keeps your pushing leg from kicking the knee scooter (an annoying, painful and potential danger). Width can be judged by the separation of the front wheels, although wider is not always better. You will find units so wide they won’t fit through a doorway (Kneal) or so narrow as to be unstable (Invacare).
How adjustable and comfortable are the knee pads? Your needs can change as your cast or dressing is adjusted, so it is important to look for a unit with two adjustable pads. The ability to adjust the location of the pad can greatly affect your comfort. Avoid units that only offer a single fixed pad (Kneal or Wiel).
Does it fold down for easy storage? Most units will fold for easy storage and transportation. They can be put in the back seat of a car, a trunk or even in the first class closet on an airplane. Beware the very large units (Kneal) that are too big for most cars and any plane.
Do I need tools to assemble? Make sure that the knee scooter can be adjusted without tools. Amazingly enough, some models (Invacare) and especially older units require wrenches (not included) to adjust for your height and size.
What accessories are included? Think of what you might need: a purse, phone, book, lunch, laundry, etc. Some knee scooters offer small black bags while others provide large removable baskets. Both could be helpful to free your hands while moving, but the removable basket has proven to be more useful and versatile.