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We recently had a customer come in who had injured her foot and was given a boot. Her doctor prescribed a scooter to help her get around during her recovery. Unfortunately, the customer was experiencing pain in her “good” leg because she kept hitting her ankle on the wheel of the scooter. The simple solution for us was to adjust the position of the knee pad. Problem solved.

If you’ve suffered a recent injury or surgery to your lower leg or ankle, or are experiencing ulcers that make it hard to put pressure on your foot, you might be personally acquainted with the ease and convenience of using a knee scooter, also known as a knee walker. The walker allows you to rest your injured leg comfortably on a cushioned pad while pushing off on a wheeled base with your good leg. Gone is the awkward maneuvering required with crutches.

As wonderful as the knee scooter may be, however, it is important that your scooter is properly adjusted to your unique dimensions. An improperly fitted knee walker can cause pain and discomfort in your back, neck, and weight-bearing leg, not to mention your ankles. There are four adjustments that we can make to ensure that your knee walker is comfortable:

1. Ensure correct height of knee platform.

The knee platform, where you rest your healing leg, must be adjusted to the correct height. Incorrectly adjusted platforms will cause you to put too much or too little weight on your good leg. This can lead to knee pain, back pain, and increased effort needed to propel the scooter. Just like adjusting the height of a bicycle, when you stand still with your injured leg on the knee platform, your uninjured leg should be slightly bent. If your free leg is fully extended, or if your heel is not firmly on the ground, then the height of the platform is too high and should be adjusted downwards. Conversely, if the knee of your free leg is bent too much, the knee platform is too low, and you are putting too much pressure on your good leg. In this scenario, your platform should be raised.

2. Ensure correct height of the handlebar.

The handlebar should be set at the level of your waist so that your arms are in a comfortable position. This will cause the hips to be even and the injured leg at a comfortable 90-degree angle. If the handlebar is too low, you will have to bend your back, which will cause your hips to be out of alignment. This will cause both back and hip discomfort. If the handlebar is too high, you will not be able to support yourself as efficiently with your arms and will tire yourself out more easily.

3. Adjust offset.

Many scooters may be adjusted to the right or the left depending on which leg is injured. While this is a minor adjustment, offsetting the knee platform toward your good leg greatly improves the stability of the knee scooter while keeping your good foot and ankle clear of the wheels. Many users will habitually place their injured leg in the center of the platform. This added distance, however, puts more pressure on your uninjured leg. The better option is to place your injured leg closer to the edge of the platform towards your good leg. A proper offset adjustment will help with proper leg placement.

4. Adjust the knee pads.

Once you’ve adjusted the height of your knee pad up or down, it is important to adjust the width of your knee pad if available. Some walkers have pads that can be adjusted closer together or farther apart. This adjustment takes into account the position of your cast or bandages and places the pad in the best position to minimize discomfort.

With your knee scooter properly adjusted, your hips should be even, and you should be able to stand comfortably with your uninjured foot flat on the ground. You should be in an upright position as if you are standing normally. A properly adjusted walker, which allows you to take pressure off the injured leg, will allow you to heal faster while granting you much-needed mobility during the healing process.

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