A Knee Walker is basically a rolling stool with a padded cushion on which to rest the knee and with handlebars with which to steer and maintain balance (Figure 1). This device enables patients to take the force through the knee instead of through the involved foot or ankle, or through the arms in the case of crutches. It is an excellent way to completely off-load the foot and still get around. In theory, it could be used in the long term but it is generally only used during the post-operative recovery period.
Figure 1: Knee Walker
As with all medical devices, it is important to fit the Knee Walker appropriately to avoid further injuries. The height of the knee platform should be adjusted to the level of the knee in a natural standing position to avoid hip strain or discomfort. To move forward, alternate between stepping on the “good” foot and rolling on the involved side where the knee takes the force.
Even though the knee walker allows for a relatively smooth movement, it still does create asymmetry of movement and may cause other areas of the body to be aggravated (hip, back, etc.) In addition, knee walkers are substantially more expensive than crutches. While some insurance companies cover knee walkers, many may not.
Edited October 4, 2015