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The Knee Walker: No, It's Not A Geriatric Star Wars Land Rover
Jul 16, 2010
Review by Freak369
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Good for short distances, basket, positionable, click-lock enabled.
Cons:Expensive if you don't have insurance, potential to fall or tip over is still there.
The Bottom Line: The Knee Walker is worth trying in a physical therapy unit but it can be a dangerous item if not used correctly.
Recommend this product?
Anyone that has been through any type of surgical procedure that has left them incapacitated will tell you the road down the physical therapy trail is not always an easy one. One of the things I feared the most was having to use a walker and "hop" around before I was fitted for a prosthetic. Knowing that I was pressing my luck with the one good leg I didn't want to end up falling or hurting it and was trained on a few different walking assistants in physical therapy. The wheelchair that was ordered for me was due to be delivered the day before my discharge and I already knew the ins and outs of it; right now it is sitting in the basement collecting dust and I scowl at it every time I pass it. I refuse to ever, ever be in a wheelchair again.
The Knee Walker was sort of a joke amongst the people that I had physical therapy with. In theory it is supposed to 'replace' your injured or missing leg to allow you to be mobile. Since I had so many other factors that came in to play with my amputation I had to take things easy, for me that is something that is almost impossible. The Knee Walker is like a walker but there is a ledge that you can rest your limb on; this can be moved from one side to another so it is sold or leased "as is" and the tech that delivers it will adjust it to your specific needs. I used this for three days during my first two weeks in physical therapy and again when I went back for prosthetic training; both of these were in-patient stays. The physical therapists really pushed me to give this an honest chance; they knew my fears of using a walker and having to hop around and even though I was getting my prosthetic during the second stay I still needed to have aback up plan for when my stump was swollen or when it was impossible to get my 'leg on'. Yes, I still chuckle when I say that so feel free to laugh.
There are limitations to this; there are bariatric versions but they are almost three times the cost of the regular versions. I used two different brands; one was InvaCare and the other was SelfSustain. They were almost identical but the SelfSustain brand had a padded handle whereas the InvaCare version had a harder foam rubber handle. It is an ingenious product that can give someone more freedom but they do need to have proper training on how to use it, areas to avoid and proper upkeep on it. The brake feature is something that you will use a lot when you first start walking with it, you always have the feeling that it is going to slide out from under you but once you get that feeling under control it is something that makes getting around a lot easier. When I finally started getting my strength back I used this a few times, instead of a wheelchair, to get from the bed to the bathroom [in rehab] but still had to call for someone to help me with the whole thing.
There is a weight limit on the regular Knee Walker; since you are putting a lot of pressure in it when you are walking you need to pay close attention to all of the moving parts of it and call for any problems that you may have with it. I was given the choice between getting one of these upon discharge or a wheelchair. I went with the wheelchair because it was just way too exhaustive to get around with this. I can't imagine someone trying to go to the mall or grocery store with this. Even though it would have meant more activity and movement for me it is also a rather dangerous piece of equipment. The chance of falling or losing your balance is always there so you have to avoid wet floors, uneven pavements and sidewalks, gravel, inclines and pretty much anything that isn't flat.
Who would this be best for? Most of the older rehab patients flat out refuse to even try it. Are you going to argue with an 80 year old man who had a hip replacement and is toting a metal cane? I don't think so. If you are shorter chances are you will have better luck with this than someone that is taller. I'm a shade under six foot tall so this felt completely foreign to me. You still have to hop a little when you first start using it until you get the movement and the flow of it. The handy dandy basket in the front of it [removable] does have some nice perks. I did like this more than using crutches but that isn't really saying a lot. I had a weight deficit on my left side of about eight or nine pounds so trying to use crutches was a comical effort. What was left of my left leg would be swinging all over the place and eventually the muscles would contract so instead of it being straight in a walking position it would have an "L" shape to it.
This is collapsible so you can get it in and out of a vehicle with almost no problems but you do have to make sure that everything is locked in place before you put any weight on it. The weight limit on the regular Knee Walker from both companies is 300 pounds, the bariatric version go to 500 pounds but they are hard to come by and are usually to get someone up and moving for short distances. If you have a broken leg and it is set in a way that makes using crutches impossible this might be a good alternative but you do need to have training on how to properly use it. One of the biggest problems I had with it was that I sort of forces you to lean forward and slouch; that can mean uneven weight distribution and even though there are four wheels to it the chance of losing your balance or tipping over when using this is ever present.
The Knee Walker works a little better on low pile carpeting than on tile or linoleum but with carpeting you have to be careful that you don't drag the tip of your good foot and lose your balance. A good solid heel strike is needed to get around on this and be mobile so patients that have limited mobility or can’t stand up for long periods of time are going to find this more of a frustration than a blessing. Ultimately it should be the patients decision on what they use when they are released from a hospital or physical therapy facility. I openly admit I was probably one of the most frustrating people there because there were so many things that seemed impossible to do. Even transferring from a wheelchair to the toilet was a major ordeal until I started getting some of my strength back. If you are facing a surgery that will leave you partially immobile or in a wheelchair but you feel you are strong enough to stand up and get around then the Knee Walker is a step up from a standard walker but as I have said, you do need to have a qualified tech show you how to properly use it.
^V^ © 2010 Freak369 ^V^
Medline Elevated Toilet Seat
Medline Shower / Tub Transfer Bench
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