Whether you’re recovering from an injury or surgery on your ankle, foot or knee, a pair of crutches or a knee walker will help you get around faster. However, if you’re like most people, you may be wondering which of the two is the better option.
Until recently, crutches were the only real solution. Today, knee walkers are giving patients new options when it comes to improving mobility after an injury or surgery. This is why most people are using scooters instead of crutches.
To help you find the right solution for your needs, we’re going to weigh the pros and cons of crutches and knee walkers.
The Why or Why Not of Crutches?
Crutches are the most common device people use for mobility after an injury or surgery. Think of crutches as a pair of tall canes that you place underneath your arms. The weight is balanced evenly between the two crutches, and allows you to maintain balance as you “hop” around on one foot.
Essentially, they allow you to walk safely while keeping weight off your injured leg.
There are many advantages to using crutches, but there are disadvantages as well.
The Pros of Crutches
Crutches are a great option if you still have excellent upper body strength and have most of your mobility intact. Once you learn how to use them, you can walk pretty quickly with crutches.
With a pair of crutches, you have more control over the speed and pace of your movement. They also allow for a neutral position of the wrist and hand to prevent pain and fatigue.
Unlike some of other mobility devices, crutches allow you to maneuver a variety of terrains, including rough and uneven surfaces, with ease.
And if you’re on a tighter budget, crutches are typically the best option. A good pair of crutches is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t require a prescription. You can buy crutches at a local medical supply store or even online.
They’re also easy to travel with, which makes them a great option for people who are always on the go.
The Cons of Crutches
While crutches certainly have a number of advantages, they also have some disadvantages.
One main disadvantage to crutches is that they can be uncomfortable to use, particularly underarm ones. Underarm irritation is very common, and crutches can wrinkle your clothing when used for longer periods of time.
It does take some practice to figure out how to use crutches, and if you lack upper body strength, it may be difficult or impossible to use them.
Maneuvering stairs can also be a challenge with underarm crutches, and because both of your hands are occupied, it’s far more difficult to carry things around.
There may also be occasions where the crutches simply won’t fit through the doorway.
The Why or Why Not of Knee Walkers
For elderly people or those with other mobility issues, a knee walker may be the better option. Knee walkers are like mini scooters. They come equipped with three wheels (like a tricycle), and feature handlebars and a pad to rest your knee on.
Knee walkers allow you to move at your own pace and keep the weight off the leg without having to balance on a pair of crutches.
There are advantages and disadvantages to choosing this type of mobility device.
The Pros of Knee Walkers
One of the main advantages to choosing a scooter instead of crutches is ease of use. Compared to crutches, these special walkers are a breeze to use. Ease of use makes this device a great option for elderly users.
Because these walkers are closer to the ground, they tend to be more stable than crutches. They’re also more comfortable to use because the knee rest is padded. If you’re wearing a cast, the padded rest makes if far more comfortable to get around.
These scooters can move pretty quickly once you get used to using one, and they’re less clunky, so you can move through doorways with ease. And once you stop moving, you have both hands free to complete whatever task is at hand.
With knee walkers, there’s less concern of slipping on slick surfaces, and they don’t require any upper body strength to use.
The Cons of Knee Walkers
While the pros outweigh the cons in most cases with knee walkers, there are some drawbacks that need to be considered.
One of the main drawbacks to choosing a knee walker is that they’re more expensive than a simple pair of crutches.
While they’re easier to use than crutches, there’s still a slight learning curve when first using knee walkers.
Also, knee walkers cannot be used on stairways, which may be problematic for some people.
Now that you understand the advantages and disadvantages of crutches and knee walkers, you can make an informed decision when choosing your mobility device. Each mobility device offers its own benefits, and a therapist or doctor can help you choose the right device for you.
You can see our reviews of our favorite knee walkers here.
Tim is a professional caregiver who has helped hundreds of seniors gain back their freedom and independence. He has been actively helping the senior community for 20+ years.