5 Reasons Knee Walkers Are Better than Crutches

knee scooterNote: This is a guest blog by Tom Schwab, founder of Goodbye Crutches.

To better understand what our customers who are recovering from surgery experience on a daily basis, we recently had “crutch day.” On Monday morning everyone was given a pair of crutches to use for the entire day. While we had a lot of fun (watch on You Tube) we also learned a lot about why a Knee Walker is easier to use than crutches. Here are the top 5 reasons I found Knee Walkers preferable to crutches.

  1. No Cheating: It has been proven that people can’t accurately gauge just how much weight they put on an injured leg. People will bear weight until it hurts and often that’s enough to do damage or compromise healing. With a Knee Walker your foot can’t touch the ground, so you are guaranteed to be completely Non-Weight Bearing.
  2. Don’t Need Arm Strength: After just a few hours on crutches my arms were tired. If it had been crutch week the soreness and chaffing would have been an issue. With the Knee Scooter your arms aren’t involved.
  3. More Stable in Any Weather: I can’t imagine confidently using crutches in snow or rain. The Knee Scooter can be used in all conditions except deep snow.
  4. Makes Normal Life Less of a Chore: By lunch I was making decision based on whether or not it was worth the effort. I admit I didn’t wash filthy hands before eating a sandwich. It was too much work and they‘d only get filthy again from the rubber hand grips. I better understood how recovery from an injury or surgery can lead to isolation and even to depression. A Knee Scooter can make everyday tasks more manageable.
  5. You Need To Eat and Drink: On crutches there was no way to get a cup of coffee to my office. I ended up kicking the travel mug down the hall. With the knee scooter I could put the travel mug in the basket. The basket on the Knee Walker was also helpful at lunch and for carrying papers at work.

A day on crutches proved the surgeon was right when he told me that if I ever had to be on crutches for 8 weeks I’d show up at my first office visit with a black cast. I’d be embarrassed, he’d be mad, and we both wouldn’t like the long-term outcome. If crutches don’t work for your lifestyle, talk to your doctor.  There may be options to help you regain your mobility, stability, and livelihood while you recover on one foot.

tom schwabTom Schwab is owner and founder of Goodbye Crutches, the nation’s largest distributor of crutch alternatives.  If you can’t bear weight and you can’t bear crutches call Goodbye Crutches

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Lance Silverman, MD

Orthopaedic Surgeon and founder of Silverman Ankle & Foot. Treating Minnesotans with Ankle & Foot problems since 2004.

Latest posts by Lance Silverman, MD (see all)


  1. says

    It’s true – with a recent ankle sprain I found my crutches to be an annoyance and left them home for a business trip to Boston. I used a cane instead, and it took me forever to get around. I totally get what you’re saying about the inconvenience of crutches. Great stuff Tom.

  2. Ian Perry says

    2 to 6 months I’m out with a knee injury. I feel like I could actually work if I could just free up my hands. The knee walker doesn’t work for my injury and all the crutches require hands. The pain is really less an issue than the fact that I can’t work.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment Ian. The knee walker can make life much simpler for people with certain injuries, but knee injuries can sometimes be problematic because you don’t want to bring pressure down on the knee. Knee walkers are great for injuries were you want to alleviate weight on a foot, ankle or other part of the leg (sometimes even the knee), but not all. Hopefully your recovery is a swift one and you can get back to work soon!

    • Melanie says

      Ian, I can’t work at all either. My job requires a 100% workable body. *sigh*. I am adapting to the walker…faster to the bathroom, beverages in sealed containers, etc. FOOD ! Wheelchair for flat surfaces. But, homebound still and dependant on others. Depressing for sure. Just cannot give up….now 5+ weeks postop and going to be another ??? too many more weeks. Minimal help from the outside. Hang in there.

  3. says

    Ian, You are correct. When you can’t comfortably kneel the knee walker is not a good option to crutches. People with knee injuries or a condition like severe arthritis are not good candidates for knee walkers or the hands free crutch as both load the knee. One option might be a Seated Scooter. While similar in design to a knee scooter, the user sits on a bike seat instead of kneeling. Both scooters turn, fold easily and are propelled with the users good leg. Wishing you a fast and full recovery.

  4. Tamara says

    GREAT idea having a crutches day! I just had surgery to repair a ruptured achilles and to have an Accessory Navicular removed on right leg. I’ll tell ya, was not at ALL prepared for the recovery from this. Basically, was bedridden; with EXTREMELY limited ability to maneuver anywhere in house without great difficulty or supervision for first 2 weeks. I had a normal walker (not knee scooter) and crutches. Moving anywhere with either of those 2 things requires a great deal of effort and danger when at the ‘no weight baring at all’ stage. Week 3, able to get out of bed a little more, still no weight baring at all, stitches out and can swim in pool. I am exhausted both physically and mentally from the amount of difficulty movement has with the crutches and walker. I believe I slip into depression some time this week and have a few emotional breakdowns this week. Any positivity or hope I had in my recovery is almost completely gone and I feel like I am going to be stuck like this forever! Halfway through week 3, we find a beautiful knee scooter for sell online out of nowhere! Purchased it IMMEDIATELY and it has basically changed my life! It does still require a period of time to become completely comfortable with it and learn the little ins and outs, but it truly is a Godsend! I am afraid of what my mental state would have been if left facing the prospect of recovering with those damn crutches and the walker! You still will become exhausted from using the knee scooter but at least you will feel more capable, safe and independent! And possibly escape sanity intact if not already lost or damaged prior! Ha! Seriously, sorry such long response but if you are on the fence about renting or buying a knee scooter or using the aforementioned devices of torture, GET OFF OF IT! And get the knee scooter! Hint: search for ones that the handle bars actually turn. Trust me, it matters! Thanks…

  5. Melanie says

    I am 4 wks post ankle surgery – tib/fib and 1 more broken bone. I am like the writer above…emotionally and physically wiped out. I just got a knee scooter (finally!) and a wheelchair and crutches. 100% non weight bearing. You are right…no food, no drinks…etc. on crutches. Physically and emotionally healthy until now. Have intense knee and hip pain on injured side due to crutch use. The wheelchair allows me to have a flat surface for obtaining food/computer, etc. The kneeler permits to get things in a narrower space – my house is not wheelchair friendly. But, no flat surfaces to carry many things. My surgeon said the “overwhelming feelings” are normal…but I can’t tell you how many times I have cried my secret “pity me” tears.

  6. Melanie says

    I too have a broken ankle – 4.5 weeks post surgery. I live in a home with lots of stairs. I have been on crutches only – I am non-weight bearing and the surgeon says I will be completely non-weight bearing at least another 12 weeks. I cannot have a wheelchair due to the stairs in my apartment, and there are lots of stairs outside as well – none of which have banisters. It is VERY snowy and icy outside and the cement stairs outside my apartment are constantly covered in about 2″ thick ice – despite the fact that we ice melt it daily each nice it forms back into a solid sheet of ice.
    Would a knee scooter benefit me? Would I be able to maneuver it up and down stairs? I am TERRIFIED of going back to work on Monday on my crutches as I am not sure how I am going to safely maneuver all of these icy stairs…
    any advice appreciated. Should I just suck it up and crawl on my hands and knees across the ice and down all the stairs to the vehicle? It’s about 500m away, and there are 20+ outside stairs, in groups of 3-4.

    • says


      I am not sure I am familiar with a broken ankle that requires 16 weeks of non-weight bearing. Only a pilon fracture requires that long of non-weight bearing, and only in the worst of circumstances.

      A knee scooter could help your mobility for distance, but the scooter doesn’t work well on stairs. I am not sure that returning to work is a safe idea for you with such weight bearing restrictions. My heart goes out to you, as this is a hard condition to deal with. If I had your condition, I would use the knee scooter out of the home on flat ground, and I’d consider getting a walker for better stability on stairs and ice. This is not going to be a fun time. I am sorry, and hope your ankle gets better soon.

  7. Lacey Menapace says

    I have to have my 2nd ankle surgery in Dec. Yes I am over weight so crutches are hard to use. I was wondering if the knee scooter would be the best option or the sitting scooter? thanks for the help

    • anklefootmd says


      Knee scooters work well if you have good balance, and sitting scooters work best if you don’t. Best of luck in you recovery.

  8. says

    Great Points Dr. Silverman! Knee Walkers Canada is a new Knee Scooter and Knee Walker rental service in the Greater Toronto Area! Knee Walkers are a very useful alternative to crutches, and it is great to see Dr’s like yourself prescribing them!

    Check out our new site http://www.kneewalkerscanada.com We are interested in any recommendation on how to better serve foot and ankle patients!

    Jamie Shaw – Knee Walkers Canada

  9. Pat says

    I bought a knee walker after finding out I had a Jone’s fracture. Wow, was I having fun on it, just think, no more crutches. Well after 3 1/2 weeks of using it constantly, walking my dog, moving around my apartment on it, I DEVELOPED A POPLITEAL DEEP VEIN TRHOMBOSIS (DVT). The clot was huge. I have no risk factors for DVTs, I don’t smoke, I’m healthy, I have no diseases, no arthritis. These rollers NEED WARNING SIGNS ON THEM!!! Do not stay on them for prolong amount of time. Do not wear tight fitting pant legs while on them. Switch to crutches once in a while and give yourself some exercise. Believe me, if there was a warning sign on it, I WOULDN’T be taking a blood thinner and back on crutches. WHAT A NIGHTMARE THIS THING IS.

    • anklefootmd says

      What causes a DVT:

      Three general factors are involved in the development of a Deep Venous Thrombosis; its called Virchow’s triad:

      1. Injury to a vessel wall
      2. Predisposition to a blood clot
      3. Venous stasis (immobility)

      Anytime patients go non-weight bearing they get venous stasis, ie the blood doesn’t move. A recent study in Foot and Ankle International highlighted this problem: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25249319

      With fractures and some surgeries of the foot, ankle and leg that require non-weight bearing, we prescribe rolling knee walkers and other devices to help patients stay more mobile. Unfortunately, patients are at risk to develop DVT. A DVT is a big problem because it can lead to a pulmonary embolism (PE). This is a life-threatening condition. But, putting every patient with a pair of crutches on blood thinners runs many other risks of bleeding. And most patients never develop a problem.

      The AOFAS (http://www.aofas.org) is presently working on a study to figure out which patients will need blood thinners and which do not.

      At SAF, we have a paradigm:

      Patients with a family or personal history of blood clots are anticoagulated during the risk period.
      Patients on estrogen supplementation and who smoke are anticoagulated during the risk period.
      Patients with a genetic predisposition to blood clots (Factor V deficiency for example) are anticoagulated. (http://www.stoptheclot.org/documents/FactorVLeiden-lw.pdf)

      Does it catch all the DVTs, no, but, it stops some of them. Since we began to use this several years ago, our rates of DVT have declined significantly. But, we can’t stop them all; some people will get a DVT despite the best of intentions. Best of luck on your recovery, Pat.


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