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Is a Knee Scooter Better than Crutches?

Recuperating from a broken ankle or foot can be a long and painful process. While you are trying to adjust to movement with the least amount of pain, you need the right mobility aid to help you out during these times. One tends to get confused with the number of options available in the market with each seeming better than the other. One of the most common comparisons that you might come across would be between knee scooters and crutches.

Until recently, the only real solution for mobility aids that you would find were the conventional crutches. They were a usual approach when you needed to take your body weight off your afflicted area and help you to get around on your day-to-day tasks. However, knee scooters have quickly become a new option for a lot of users to improve their mobility after an injury or surgery.

Let’s answer some of the questions that you might be having in your mind while taking this decision.

Is it easier to use a knee scooter or a pair of crutches?

One of the main advantages that Knee Scooters have over a pair of crutches is the ease of navigation. You can zoom around pretty quickly on a Knee Scooter, once you are comfortable with the steering. They are quite easy to operate and offer better convenience in moving around. They are thus suitable for elderly people or for individuals that experience physical limitations, recurring issues, or injuries.

Crutches require the strength of your upper body to carry the weight of the injured leg. So, if you have good upper body strength and mobility, you can walk faster with crutches, once you have gotten comfortable using them.

Crutches

So, do crutches require higher upper body strength as compared to knee scooters?

If you are starting to use a pair of crutches, you would require arm strength to support your body weight on the crutches. This becomes quite difficult for the elderly and for patients who have upper-body limitations. Crutches, if not used correctly, can lead to injuries of upper extremities, wrist pain, or numbness in hands. You certainly risk irritating your armpits with chances of wear and tear on your shoulders, wrists, and lower back.

In contrast to this, Knee Scooters have no such requirement for arm strength. With no such requirements, users are encouraged to move a lot, get around the area. It is a good idea to talk to your care provider if a Knee Scooter or a pair of Crutches would be a better idea owing to your distinct limitations, disability, or injury.

Do knee scooters and crutches work well on all surfaces?

The decision between a knee scooter and crutches depends on what sort of areas would you be moving around quite often. Knee Scooters prove to be slower going than conventional crutches on many surfaces. If you would require to move up and down the stairs, Knee Scooter is not your choice. If your house has narrow doorways or halls, it would be a challenge if the front wheelbase of your Knee scooter is too wide.

As far as crutches are considered, you can navigate through stairs with them. Although this is quite difficult in the beginning, with time you can climb up or down a staircase with crutches. For rough surfaces, crutches are always the better option.

Why are Knee Scooters getting popular as assisted mobility aids?

Knee Scooters resemble a scooter in the first look. However, instead of having a stepping surface, they have a cushion molded in foam onto which you can rest the upper part of your lower leg. Your foot and ankle are hanging off the Knee Scooter, thereby, eliminating any pressure on the affected areas. The Knee Scooter also has a T-bar handle that comes with its own set of brakes. Although Knee Scooters are a bit more expensive than Crutches, their ability to provide a comfortable recovery makes them quite popular as an assisted mobility aid.

In terms of stability and balance, what is better between a knee scooter and a crutch?

Knee Scooters are low to the floor and generally offer more stability than regular crutches. However, this does not mean that you need not be careful while using them. They can be a little unstable if you lean forward or backward too far or too much on one side. There is a learning curve associated with them, in terms of how to maneuver around and go straight.  Many individuals with injured legs find crutches to be unsafe and unstable. Also, it is difficult to use them while opening doors or picking up things since your arms and hands would be occupied clutching the crutches.

Which of the two aids would be better for adverse weather conditions?

Moving around with the assistance of a pair of crutches can prove to be difficult in wet weather or abnormal climatic conditions. The rubber feet on crutches can prove to be slick on certain types of terrain. Moving on ice using your crutches can be unsafe as well. Thus, they are a little clunky and can be unsafe with the possibility of slipping on slick or wet surfaces. However, using a Knee Scooter offers a safer and resilient choice. Due to its basic design, the Knee Scooter works well in all kinds of climates and weather conditions. There are lesser chances of experiencing a slip or fall while using a Knee Scooter.

Are there any user weight limits for using a Knee Scooter over Crutches or vice versa?

Owing to their design and durability, Knee Scooters can hold more weight easily as compared to crutches. In the case of Crutches, they are designed with restrictions over the weight that they can withstand. This makes them quite unsafe for heavier patients. You would not want to experience any accident owing to weight issues while using crutches. Knee Scooters are typically designed for a wider range of users and thus are a preferred option.

Should I go with Conventional Crutches or Knee Scooters if I have to move around a lot?

While you are recuperating, you prefer to have a minimum amount of inconvenience in your daily life. Think about the tasks that you do daily – from household chores to eating and drinking. With a pair of crutches, your maneuverability is affected quite a bit. You would be juggling between maintaining balance and doing your daily basic tasks like taking food out of your refrigerator. A Knee Scooter offers an easier and feasible movement for moving your belongings, including food and drink from one place to another. However, you should observe and monitor your daily habits and decide on your mobility aid according to them.

Can you give me an example of how a Knee Scooter can be helpful in my house in my day-to-day life?

Sure. Let us take a simple task of preparing a meal at your home. Say, you want to prepare dinner by your kitchen counter and your ankle is injured. You will not be able to put it steadily on the ground as it would hurt you more. If you were using crutches to support yourself in this situation, you would be shuffling them around to maintain your balance while trying to chop up some vegetables in parallel. With a Knee Scooter, moving towards the counter is easy. You can make use of the brakes on the Scooter and stop it. Once you have turned on the brakes, you would be able to maintain balance while your leg rests comfortably. For basic tasks like going to the bathroom to brushing your teeth to answering the door – it is far easier with a Knee Scooter as compared to the regular crutches.

And what about moving around outdoors? Is it convenient in that case?

Knee Scooters are convenient for individuals who are planning to stay active during their recovery. From going out for a short walk or to the nearest grocery store or enjoying the outdoors with your friends and family, it is much easier to do it on wheels. You can regulate the scooter speed with your working leg. Also, transporting it in the back of your car is simple as well. The handles of the Knee Scooters can easily fold down to fit in the back seat or trunk of your car.

I would prefer a piece of comfortable and convenient equipment during my recovery. Which one should I choose?

When it comes to mobility aids, you should never compromise on comfort. The ability to move around conveniently allows you to focus on your recovery rather than worrying about how to stay comfortable. A Knee scooter offers a resting place during activities and it exceeds what regular crutches would offer in terms of overall comfort. Continuously using regular crutches can hurt your shoulders, arms, and armpits with time. Sometimes, prolonged stress on these parts can lead to additional pain or injury, which you would not prefer while you are already recovering. As compared to Crutches, Knee Scooters offer a seemingly effortless gliding-motion which exceeds the energy and strength required by most patrons, patients, and users to use crutches.

According to my doctor, I might have a longer recovery time. I would thus need the mobility aid for an extended duration. What should I do?

The selection of your mobility aid also depends on the nature of your injury and the time expected for you to recover. If you find yourself confined to using these aids for an extended period, you might want to choose an option that offers you convenience and comfort both in going ahead with your daily tasks. While a Knee Scooter is considered to be a practical solution for short term recovery, it is also considered comfortable and convenient for users who are experiencing chronic pain, orthopedic issues or are in requirement of long-term mobility assistance.

So, what should I purchase, a knee scooter or crutches?

Unfortunately, there is no single answer to this question. What would be the right choice for you depends upon your budget, medical situation as well as your daily routine. Sometimes, people use crutches in conjunction with a Knee Scooter. This makes it easier to shift to the apt mobility aid depending on the location or terrain.

In case of knee surgeries, crutches are the primary option for most until you get a go-ahead from the doctor to use a Knee Scooter. However, for ankle surgeries, many people prefer Knee Scooters because they are more stable and allow you to navigate faster.

What all should I consider before deciding on a Knee Scooter or Crutches?

Prospective users should always remember that whether they use a Knee scooter or Regular Crutches, there would always be a learning curve associated with the usage. You should be prepared to learn to control and maneuver the assisted mobility device, whichever you choose.  Since you would prefer to be able to move around and not stay completely immobilized, you should be prepared to be a part of this learning curve.

To start with, it is always a good idea to get personalized instructions from your vendor and get adjustments done while purchasing to ensure safety, good performance, and satisfaction in using the aid. Always ensure that you buy or rent your mobility equipment and devices from qualified professionals. This helps in getting support and service during your rehabilitation.

You should consult your doctor and mobility experts for an assessment of needs to get more information and find your best fit.

Consider all your options carefully as the choice of the best option depends on your situation- your injury, duration of recovery, your daily tasks, etc. Before you concede to conventional crutches, you may think about how using a Knee Scooter can assist you in recovery and rehabilitation.

Gaurav Dhir, B. Tech, is an engineer by training. He also holds the degree of PGDCM from the prestigious IIM Calcutta. Gaurav is responsible for the health and wellness of 4 generations including his son, elderly parents and very elderly grandparents. He is a wellness aficionado and loves keeping and staying healthy.