What is a knee walker, and how can owning one benefit you?
In lieu of using crutches or a traditional walker, a knee walker has two or four wheels for mobility, balance, and support, and a platform. To use, the “bad” or broken leg or foot is flexed onto this padded platform, supporting the shin of the afflicted limb, while the mobile leg propels the device forward. Other names it can be known as are “coaster”, “cruiser”, “caddy”, or “leg walker”.
The design has evolved over the years from having smaller wheels to use indoors to larger devices that can be used on a variety of terrains such as concrete or grass. Typically, knee walkers are lightweight and foldable.
Benefits of owning a knee walker
As a senior citizen yourself, or a concerned relative or family member of one, you may be in the market for a knee walker due to a variety of reasons.
Whether it is limited mobility due to aging or surgery after a broken foot/leg, or you live alone, a knee walker can give you back some of what you may have lost. A reliable knee walker can enable independence and the ability to continue an active lifestyle and living as you were before. While durability and comfort are important factors to consider when researching knee walkers, safety is a paramount concern, especially if one lives alone.
Regaining mobility in itself is a huge step for recovery, and can be a boost to self-confidence. A knee walker is a good alternative medical aid that can offer more freedom than a cane, crutch, wheelchair, or traditional walker, all of which can be cumbersome and inconvenient.
It is an optimal choice for someone who may have balance concerns, or a fear of slipping and falling. It is important to know your own strength and coordination capabilities ahead of purchasing, and what you will feel most at ease with.
Ease of Use: The idea behind the knee walker scooter is that it is safer to use than crutches, and distinctly more maneuverable. Crutches can require a fair amount of upper body strength that someone may not possess. In addition they can chafe the armpits from extended use, and create tension and stress on shoulders, arms, and wrists. While using any medical device needs practice, knee walkers offer a simplicity that crutches do not, in addition to being faster transportation.
Mobility: Prior to the advent of knee carts, those who had certain ailments such as foot surgery, gout, amputations, diabetic ulcers, sprains or fractures were relegated to bed rest, traditional walkers, crutches or wheelchairs during their rehabilitation period. Knee walkers can allow your lower body to heal without worrying about falling, and provide the patient with more opportunities to carry on their life as normal.
Space: Knee walkers often have baskets (like bicycles!) or something similar to carry personal items, something that crutches cannot possess. Yes, the walker has a steering wheel that keeps hands occupied like crutches; however, letting go with one to grab something will not cause a fall like the latter would. Many knee walkers are foldable, thus taking up less room than giant crutches.
Safety: Most people find crutches unstable and unsteady. When recovering from surgery or other leg issues, this can pose a problem, as a fall can risk the recurrence of injury or create an entirely new setback. Knee walkers are more stable than crutches, and offer the added benefit of lessening the possibility of slipping on wet or uneven surfaces.
What to consider when deciding to use a knee walker
As this is a piece of medical equipment used in recovery, there are certain things to consider when either purchasing or renting one in order to make recovery as swift and painless as possible. When looking into knee walkers, you should look for hand brakes, large wheels, steering capabilities, foldability, leg support, height adjustability, and the weight capacity. An added bonus feature is a basket or bag to hold personal items, and whether or not you can pick it up for storage and transport. This is especially important if you live alone.
Comfort: The knee pad should feel supportive and provide the capability to adjust it to a proper height to ensure excellent balance.
Maneuverability: Using a knee walker should feel like you are gliding, and not using excess energy to move forward, with handlebars that provide good directional control. A steerable knee walker is the ideal, as it will be easier to get around on. A non-steerable walker offers more stability when outdoors however, if tipping is a concern.
Adjustability: The handlebars should be adjustable to your height to get the best possible fit and function. Be sure to test the operation of the brakes, and that there is a parking brake.
Body Type: Knee walkers must be compatible and able to handle your weight. Take this and your height into consideration, and choose a knee walker that will fit your frame.
Activity Level: How often will you be using the knee walker? Is it just to get around your house or run simple errands? Or do you live a very active lifestyle that requires an “all-terrain” knee walker that will be used on more than flat surfaces?
Location: Where will you be using the knee scooter? For an active person who spends a lot of time outdoors, an all-terrain scooter would be preferable, as the wheels are more accommodating for a variety of surfaces.
Price: Online shopping will save you a considerable amount of money as opposed to buying straight from your doctor. There is a plethora of online stores, reviews, and pricing ranges to get a good idea of what is available to suit your needs.
Below we have listed five options that convince in terms of value for money and reviews.
KneeRover Economy Knee Scooter
The KneeRover brand provides groundbreaking solutions in alternative mobility; offering great value and affordability in the medical community and to individuals requiring safe recovery from surgery, breaks, and other leg and foot ailments. The economy knee scooter is a wonderful substitute for crutches and infinitely more stable to use. The knee scooter was created for both indoor and outdoor use, and has four rubber wheels. The easily steerable walker has dual adjustable locking handbrakes, a steering column, and dual rear on-wheel brakes.
The brakes provide immediate stopping ability and control, and there is a push button parking brake. Handlebars have a quick release folding mechanism for easy transport and storage. The padded knee platform easily adjusts height for a comfortable fit, ride, and balance. Some users report adding an extra foam pad beneath the already installed padding makes it even more comfortable.
The KneeRover walker is a lightweight 21 pounds and has a 300 lb weight capacity. The recommended heights for individuals range from 4’6” to 6’6”, making it perfect for both children and adults. Children especially will have a more comfortable and reliable time using the knee walker as opposed to crutches.
Some consumers report that when making too fast or sharp turns, the scooter might be a little less stable than what you’d wish for, so keep it slow and steady. The rotating handlebars can take some getting used to as they have 360-degree capability, and this can hinder steering ability. In order to prevent tipping, its recommended to keep a hand on the brake at all times.
Although the scooter is created with many terrains in mind, its best to avoid uneven surfaces, with dips and such, and to be cautious transitioning from things like sidewalk to street. Cautious steering will help in the prevention of falls.
There is no basket, and some consider the pricing of this model and the benefit of it being lightweight a tradeoff; if necessary a bag can be hung off the handlebars. A manufacturer’s warranty is available upon request.
- lightweight and foldable
- accommodates range of heights and weights
- good for children, adults and seniors
- no basket
- cannot move too fast
- fully rotational handlebars
Drive Medical DV8
The Drive Medical DV8 drive knee walker best advantage is its steering and maneuverability; as the steering allows you to simply turn the steering column in the direction you want to go; non steering units mean the walker has to actually be picked up to move.
The DV8 is not the best walker to use outdoors as it is prone to tip on uneven surfaces and can be unstable. The walker does have 8” wheels that are best used rolling on hard floors and carpet indoors not sidewalks or curbs. Any indentation can cause slippage or tough to navigate. The wheels can be fast with no resistance, and it is best to be cautious even with the brake capability.
The adjustable knee pad has two indentations, one to for your leg as you are moving, and the other that can be used as a knee rest when the parking brake is in use. The pad can be adjusted to accommodate your height. The pad is not cushioned and users have reported this as being uncomfortable, especially since that is the knee / leg/foot/ that is healing and unusable.
Brakes are located on each side of the handlebar, and operate much like a bicycle – squeezing them slows down and stops the scooter, and to park is simply pressing a button. In the lock position and utilizing the knee pad provides support for tasks such as getting up and down from a chair or in and out of the shower and other day to day activities.
The DV8 is a lightweight 19 pounds, and has a collapsible steering column ideal for storage and transport. The recommended weight limit for an individual is 300 pounds. The walker is easy to assemble, arriving in three separate pieces, though some purchasers report the instructions being difficult to read. Its recommended to periodically check the walker hardware.
The DV8 comes with a lifetimes limited warranty from the manufacturer.
- easy assembly
- adjustable knee pad
- adjustable handlebar
- no basket
- hard knee pad
- instability on uneven surfaces
All Terrain KneeRover
The KneeRover All Terrain walker is one of the most versatile rolling knee walkers on the market, ideal for individuals recovering from a broken foot or ankle, surgery, or any other non-weight bearing leg injuries, giving them an increased level of durability and mobility that crutches cannot provide.
The All-Terrain walker features 12” pneumatic tires, excellent for both indoor and outdoor use; able to negotiate grass, sidewalks, and gravel with ease. Purchasers report the walker as making easy transitions from one type of terrain to the other, describing it as “rugged”, and that it has a very sturdy frame. The walker does not make sharp turns, as it is built for speed, use of the outrigger (“training”) wheel may help with turns, maneuvering around corners and preventing tipping. Some users, while still getting great use and favorable opinions of the walker would prefer two back wheels instead of one to help with turning. Despite its all-terrain moniker, this walker like others, is not for use on stairs.
Equipped with a 3” thick contoured knee platform, that is fully adjustable without tools, the All-Terrain walker has rubber hand grips for extra comfortability. Purchasers say that if the walker is used with an all-day frequency that a cover is recommended. The handbrake has an adjustable locking feature for immediate stopping ability and control, and the handlebars are foldable for easy transport and storage. The storage basket is detachable, and must be removed prior to folding down the handles. The weight capacity is 350 pounds, and the height recommendation is for individuals 5’ – 6’5”, providing a range of support for a variety of consumers.
The All-Terrain is a heavier model than other walkers on the market, weighting almost 30 pounds. It is priced at a higher range than many models as well due to its all-terrain features. It does not come pre-assembled, however all tools needed are provided. A manufacturer’s warranty is available upon request.
- all terrain
- adjustable knee platform
- not good on stairs
KneeRover makes another appearance on our list; this time with the Deluxe Steerable KneeCycle. What makes the KneeCycle “deluxe”? Using an advanced automobile style tire-rod steering mechanism, the KneeCycle maintains the walker’s front axle width during turns, providing maximum stability and control. Despite some issues getting used to steering and braking, the KneeCycle is preferable over crutches.
The extra sturdy, modern design features an adjustable and lockable handbrake system that enables the ability to stop quickly while steering. The scooter has a removable front axle and handlebars with quick folding mechanism for easy transport and storage, with a convenient detachable basket for carrying personal items. The basket is not as sturdy as some would prefer, reporting difficulty in keeping it attached to the walker.
The 3” thick contoured knee platform and rubber grip handlebars are both fully adjustable, guaranteeing you will find the right height accommodation; the walker is recommended for heights ranging from 4’9” to 6’6”, and has a weight capacity of 300 lbs. The knee platform is compatible with right or left legs. Ordering a separate cushion for extra padding is suggested, as extended use of the platform may cause soreness, bruising or problems with weight bearing.
Perfect for both indoor and outdoor use, the KneeCycle has four 7.5” rubber wheels, and works as well on carpet as it does on hardwood flooring. Navigating in smaller spaces – such as bathrooms- can be tricky due to a limited turning radius.
The walker weighs just under 25lbs, which is too heavy for many people to lift in and out of a car, especially those recovering from surgery with only one good leg/ foot. A manufacturer’s warranty is available upon request.
Although assembly of the walker is tool free, some customers report difficulties in following the instructions, resulting in a walker not being assembled properly and therefore causing difficulty in steering, braking, and general control.
- advanced steering system
- adjustable brakes, knee pad and handlebars
- folds up for transport and storage
- difficult assembly
Roscoe Knee Scooter
The Roscoe Knee Scooter is ideal for recovering from an ankle or foot injury. With its large 8” clear wheels, the Roscoe is steerable for increased mobility and maneuverability.
The Roscoe is equipped with adjustable, padded handlebar grips, and an adjustable hand brake. The brake does lock in position, and its suggested to keep the brake engaged when on a downward slope, as the walker can accelerate beyond your control. The turning radius is not tight, and it can take some time going back and forth to get in your desired direction. The limited turning capability is a safety feature rather than a defect, as turning too fast can cause the walker to tip over. The sturdy frame leaves people feeling well balanced and secure.
Additionally, the padded knee platform has an adjustment mechanism to fit your height and comfort level. The walker will accommodate individuals ranging in heights from 4’11 – 6’6, and has a recommended weight capacity of 350lbs. The split seat gap between is not adjustable like the height however. The design may not be comfortable for some people.
The Roscoe Knee Scooter is perfect for indoor and outdoor use, and comes with a detachable basket. Users report the walker as being able to navigate grass, concrete, though it is slower on the former. Navigating carpeting – especially high pile- can be difficult as well.
An easy folding mechanism collapses using a release lever for easy storage and transportation. The scooter weights around 23lbs, and can be hard to lift for some.
A limited lifetime warranty is available for the frame, and 90 days on all other parts. Assembly is tool free.
- tool free assembly
- adjustable height
- indoor/outdoor use
- split seat knee pad
Katherine is a medical sales assistant and focuses on senior products. She is an expert when it comes to mobility for seniors as well as for safety equipment. When she is not counseling seniors or their family members, she enjoys riding the bike and spending time with her two kids.