Buyer's Guide: Selecting the Best Knee Scooter
Jump to a Section:
- What is a knee scooter?
- How do you know if you need a knee scooter?
- Types of knee scooters
- Benefits of using a knee scooter
- Knee scooters vs. crutches
- How to use a knee scooter
- How to be safe and make the most of a knee scooter
- Key features to consider before purchasing
- Renting vs. buying
- Insurance questions
- Where to buy a knee walker
If you or a loved one have a lower leg injury, you might be considering a knee scooter, also called:
- One leg scooter
- Knee walker scooter
- Knee roller
- Knee wheelchair
- Rolling knee walker
- And more
This type of mobility aid makes the perfect alternative to crutches. This guide covers everything you need to know about knee scooters, including what they are, various types, things to consider, and even insurance questions. If you're trying to answer "what is the best knee walker," then continue reading.
What is a Knee Scooter?
A knee scooter is a specialized mobility aid designed to keep weight off one leg. These mobility aids typically have three or four wheels, a padded knee platform, and handlebars with brakes.
What Does a Knee Walker Look Like?
Medical leg scooters look very similar to a traditional four-wheel scooter. However, instead of having a seat to sit on, they feature a knee pad to place your injured leg on. They typically feature handlebars, brakes, and sometimes have a built-in knee scooter basket for personal items.
What is a Knee Walker Used for?
Knee scooters are considered to be an alternative to crutches. They’re used to keep users mobile when recovering from a lower leg surgery or injuries such as:
- Diabetic wounds & ulcers
- Torn achilles tendon
- Sprained ankles
- And more.
Knee walkers allow the injured to keep weight off their injured leg while remaining independent and moving around.
How do you Know if You Need a Knee Walker?
Before purchasing any mobility aid, it’s essential to decide if you need it first. It’s important to note that knee walkers are designed to be a temporary source of mobility support. They’re not made to be a permanent solution like wheelchairs, walkers, and canes are. Below, you’ll find a list of crucial qualifiers to consider:
- Elderly: Weak or lacking balance to use crutches
- Poor upper body strength for crutches
- Balance issues
- People who are mobile for large portions of the day
- Certain types of injuries (broken foot, sprained ankles, diabetic wounds & ulcers, or any other typical lower leg injury)
Knee scooters are great for those with weak upper body strength, poor balance, prone to falls, have lower leg injuries, or are mobile for most of the day. Traditional crutches can be difficult to use and strain the upper body. Knee scooters offer the perfect way to stay mobile without putting pressure on the upper body.
Types of Knee Scooters
While most knee scooters are designed to do the same thing (keep you mobile and off an injured leg), they are designed for different lifestyles and landscapes. Below, we highlight a few types of knee scooters.
While less mainstream, three-wheel knee scooters can offer a more agile way of getting around. They typically have two wheels on the back and one on the front. The single front wheel allows for a tighter turn radius. And because they have a one-less wheel, they’re usually more compact. Please note that three-wheel scooters tend to be less stable and prone to tips/falls.
Four-wheeled scooters are the more popular and readily available type of scooter. These feature two wheels on the front and two on the back. While they cannot turn as tight as three-wheel scooters, they’re more stable and less prone to tips/falls.
All-terrain knee scooters feature larger and wider wheels to allow users to move over rugged terrains such as grass, dirt, or rocks. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, then an all-terrain knee walker with larger wheels might be right for you.
Bariatric knee scooters are made of highly durable materials to withstand higher weight capacities. These heavy-duty knee scooters even might have a larger support surface such as wider handlebars and a larger knee pad. Before selecting any knee scooter, it’s vital to ensure the weight capacity meets your needs.
"Well-made folding travel walker"
"Light weight and easy to maneuver. Bought it for my daughter when she broke her foot. She wheels around everywhere and since it’s light weight she hauls it up & down the stairs too. Couldn’t have survived without it. Now her friends are fighting to get it next. I took my basket off my bike & hooked it on the handlebars so it’s been a real lifesaver!" - Amazon ReviewSHOP NOW
Benefits of Using a Knee Walker (Pros and Cons)
Much like any mobility aid, there are advantages and disadvantages to using a medical knee scooter. Below, we highlight the pros and cons of using a knee roller scooter.
|✔️ Can be used all-day|
✔️ Requires minimal upper body strength
✔️ Hands are free when sitting still
✔️ Relieves weight on the injured side to allow healing
✔️ Makes getting around easier and quicker compared to crutches
✔️ Can be used in unison with a backpack or basket for items
✔️ Can be used on outdoor terrains if equipped with the right wheels
|❌ Can create knee pain
❌ Requires some adjustment to use
❌ Cannot go up and downstairs
Knee Scooter vs. Crutches
Is a Knee Scooter Better than Crutches?
Mobility knee scooters are commonly compared to crutches. Both are used to relieve weight off an injured leg. While both share the same use, both have advantages and disadvantages when compared.
|✔️ Frees up your hands when stationary|
✔️ More secure over various types of flooring/terrain
✔️ Less likely to get caught on objects ✔️ Won’t get sore under your arms
✔️ Easier to stay mobile/active
✔️ Works with the user’s natural balance
✔️ Provides full support of the injured leg
❌ Can create knee pain
❌ Can’t go up/downstairs
❌ Not as cost-efficient
|✔️ More compact and fit in tighter spaces such as planes|
✔️ Lighter in weight
✔️ Less expensive
❌ Can create poor posture
❌ Requires hands to use when moving and stationary
❌ Can create upper body fatigue
❌ Requires user to keep leg bent/elevated
❌ Requires balance and coordination
How to Use a Knee Scooter
Deciding on the right knee stroller is only half the process. It’s essential to use a one knee scooter properly to stay mobile while minimizing the risk of further injury. This section breaks down how to use a knee scooter and how to adjust the height and how to get on/off.
There is no single “one size fits all” solution for knee scooters. You’ll need to adjust two height areas before using a knee scooter: knee rest and handles. The correct combination of the two will allow your body to sit in an upright position with your arms comfortably on the handles.
Knee Rest Height
The correct height of the knee rest will allow your injured leg to rest comfortably at a 90-degree angle while your healthy side does all the pushing. An improper knee rest height can create poor posture, put pressure on your injured leg, or make pushing with your healthy leg uncomfortable.
How to Adjust Scooter Height
- Stand up straight and bend injured leg 90 degrees
- Measure the height from the bottom of your knee to the floor
- Adjust the height of the knee pad to match the measured distance
Height of Handles
How Tall Should Scooter Handlebars be?
The correct height for scooter handlebars will allow your arms to be comfortable and able to brake and turn easily.
How to Measure for Proper Handle Height
- Stand straight up next to the knee scooter’s handles
- Adjust the height to match your hip level
- Test the comfort level by sitting on the knee scooter, turning, and squeezing the brakes
Getting on the Knee Scooter
It’s vital to your safety to get on the knee scooter properly. Getting on aggressively (too fast) can cause the knee scooter to move or tip/fall. Always move with patience when positioning yourself on your knee scooter.
HOw to Get on a Knee Scooter
- Stand next to the knee scooter with your injured side closest
- Lock the brakes either using the scooter’s locking mechanism or by squeezing the brakes
- Use both hands to grab onto each handlebar
- Mount your injured leg to the knee rest, keeping your uninjured leg on the ground
- Ensure you have solid stability and are able to maintain proper posture without struggle
- It might help to move slightly back and forth to test the comfort
- The injured leg should rest on the knee pad at a 90-degree angle with your hips even
Riding on the Knee Scooter
When new to riding on a knee scooter, it can be awkward and require an adjustment to get used to. During your initial period, be cautious when moving. Be sure to move slowly and be aware of your surroundings. Allow your body to get used to the mobility aid and the movement required to propel, brake, and steer.
- Always keep both hands on the handlebars
- Be aware of your surroundings and of anything that might break if bumped into
- Use your good foot to push yourself forward
- Start with small strides until you have a good feel for the scooter
- Don’t go too fast as this can cause you and the scooter to tip over
- Use the brakes to control your speed
- Always move at a controlled speed
- Apply weight on your good foot when coming to a complete stop
Turning poses the most considerable fall risk when using a knee scooter. No knee scooter is the same, and others have a larger turn radius than others. Because of this, it’s essential to take time to become familiar with your knee scooter’s turning capabilities. It can be a great help if you do a few practice turns to familiarize yourself with your scooter’s capabilities.
- Turn the handlebars to guide the scooter in the desired direction
- Take note of your scooter’s capabilities, most are able to turn 40-45 degrees
- Some corners might be too tight for your scooter, requiring a three-point-turn
- Take some time to practice turning as this might feel unnatural
Getting off the Knee Scooter
Getting off the knee scooter is very similar to mounting. It should also be done with caution to prevent falls or injury.
- Come to a complete stop before getting off
- Make sure you’re on a leveled and stable surface
- Lock the brakes or keep them engaged before and while getting off
- Keep your hands on the handlebars
- Use your good leg to support your body and gently move your injured leg away from the knee rest
How to be Safe and Make the Most of a Knee Scooter (Knee Scooter Hacks)
When it comes to using any mobility, safety comes first. Because knee scooters use wheels, they can become unstable if misused, such as moving too fast or turning too quickly.
Keep Your Speed at an Average Walking Pace
While it can be tempting to go fast while using a knee scooter, it’s best for your safety and the safety of others to keep at an average walking pace. Going too fast can cause the scooter to become unstable and fall over.
Keep Your Body Upright When in Use
Poor posture when using a knee scooter can strain your back and cause further injury. When in use, make sure your shoulders are back and your body is upright.
Use a Backpack or Basket for Personal Items
If you’ve got personal items, it’s always best to use a backpack or basket to carry them. This will make things less straining and allow your arms to remain on the handlebars.
Slow Down and Engage the Brakes with Every Turn
It’s a best practice to be overly cautious when turning. Make sure you slow down and engage the breaks when turning. This is especially true when turning around corners that are not as visible.
Control Your Speed When Going Downhill
Things can quickly get out of control when moving downhill. For this reason, it’s vital to be cautious and move at a slow and controlled speed. Use both hands and your healthy foot to keep yourself moving at a controlled rate. Moving too fast puts you at risk of accidents.
Don't Overreach for Items; Try Using a Reacher Grabber
It’s essential not to push your limitations. Overreaching for items when using a knee scooter can cause tipping. A great way to maintain some accessibility is by keeping a reacher grabber with you. These tools extend your arms and make grabbing things much more manageable. If you can’t grab something, it’s always best to ask for help.
Keep the Brakes Engaged When Stopped
Even when stopped, you’re still at risk of falling. This is especially true if you’re brakes aren’t engaged. When stopped, keeping your brakes engaged prevents you from moving forward/backward should someone or something bump into you. It also keeps your mobility aid stable and less prone to tipping.
Don't Put Unnecessary Weight on Your Knee Scooter
Avoid putting heavy items or decorations on your knee scooter. This unnecessary weight can make it top-heavy and more likely to tip over.
Don't Carry Other Humans or Pets While Riding
While it might be tempting to carry others while riding, this is a significant safety risk. Knee scooters are not designed to carry more than one being. Doing so can exceed the weight limit, cause misbalance, and end in injury.
"After three weeks of struggling with crutches, I saw this come up in search for a crutch alternative online. After looking at reviews, trying to keep to a conservative price-range and consulting with my ortho Dr., i decided on this little beauty. This is a Godsend. I'm in a cast and boot for 3 months following Achilles tendon rupture, and I literally cried at the prospect of navigating for a quarter of a year on crutches. I no longer had to wait for people to bring me things or do small chores around the house as I now freely zip around." - Amazon ReviewSHOP NOW
Key Features to Consider Before Purchasing
As with anything, it’s always a best practice to keep your budget in mind when deciding. However, quality should be taken into consideration. Low-quality knee scooters might be more affordable, but they may lack essential features/qualities needed to be user-friendly.
When compared to crutches, knee scooters are less portable. However, many are designed as foldable knee scooters which fold up or collapse to fit into confined spaces. If you are using your knee scooter in public areas or traveling, make sure you check if it is a collapsible knee scooter and its dimensions when made smaller.
Because you’ll be bearing your weight on your knee, a comfortable knee scooter pad is a must-have. Knee pads with insufficient padding or the wrong materials can be highly uncomfortable to use and even cause injury. It might be a good idea to purchase an additional knee pad if you’re sensitive in this area.
Consider where you’ll be primarily using your knee scooter. If you are rolling around your home or an office, smaller wheels will be OK for your needs. If you are moving around outside on rougher terrains such as grass or gravel, larger wheels might be necessary. Smaller wheels are not ideal for rough terrains, while larger wheels are not great for confined spaces.
You need a scooter made to withstand your weight. Using a scooter that cannot hold your weight can damage the scooter and possibly cause injury. Make sure to check the knee scooter weight limit to meet your needs.
The right knee scooter accessory can significantly enhance your experience. Baskets can give you an easy surface to keep personal items, while a knee pad can add comfort. Other accessories such as clip-on cup holders and phone holders can give you an added place to keep things.
Knee scooter brakes are an essential part of staying safe. Make sure you look at reviews of the knee scooter to ensure the brakes are adequate and easy to use.
If you’re going to be using your knee scooter in confined spaces, making sure it's an easily steerable knee walker is vital. Not all knee scooters have a tight turning radius. This can make them challenging to use in smaller homes or offices. Most steerable knee scooters have a turning radius of 40-45 degrees.
Space (House/Car Trunk)
Knee scooters do take up a decent amount of space. For this reason, it’s essential to consider your living spaces. Look at the dimensions of the scooter. Compare it to the measurements of where you’ll be moving around. Be sure even to measure your car’s trunk space. This should give you a solid idea of if it’s a good size for your needs and lifestyle.
Renting Vs. Buying
Another factor to consider is whether to purchase the knee walker outright or rent. Consider these factors:
How Long will You be Using it?
The length of use should be taken into consideration. If you’re using it for only a few days while traveling, then renting might be your better option. However, if you’ll be using it for an extended amount of time (over two months), then buying one may be best.
If you’re on a tight budget, renting might be a more viable option. Renting can break up your recovery cost into monthly increments instead of a single upfront cost. However, many online retailers are now offering interest-free payment plans through companies like Affirm.
Higher-cost knee scooters typically have more features and are designed to last. If your needs are simple, you’ll be able to find a more affordable knee scooter to purchase outright. However, if your needs are more complex, you’ll most likely need a more expensive knee scooter. For this reason, renting one might be a better choice.
Do You Need a Prescription for a Knee Walker?
No prescription is required to purchase a knee scooter. They can be bought over-the-counter without any insurance or medical doctor’s approval.
Will Insurance Cover a Knee Scooter?
Unfortunately, this answer will vary based on your insurance coverage. Medicare covers items that fall under the durable medical equipment (DME) classification. However, there have been instances where they won’t cover the cost of a knee scooter. And when it comes to Medicaid, they may or may not cover this depending on your coverage.
If you have supplemental insurance coverage through Aflac with an accident insurance policy, then your knee scooter most likely will be covered. However, the amount will vary, so it’s best to contact your agent for more details.
About the Author
Brandon Landgraf is the Digital Marketing Manager for Carex Health Brands. He finds passion and fulfillment in creating content that enhances, improves, and enlivens others' quality of life. All of his written work is formulated to not only offer essential advice and tips but back it with proven studies and experts. His mission is to connect with readers and provide steps to make their lives better.
You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.
About Carex Health Brands
Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.
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