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Choosing the Best Mobility Aid for a Broken Foot or Ankle: Crutches, Wheelchairs, and Knee Scooters

Choosing the Best Mobility Aid for a Broken Foot or Ankle:  Crutches, Wheelchairs, and Knee Scooters

Choosing the Best Mobility Aid for a Broken Foot or Ankle: Crutches, Wheelchairs, and Knee Scooters

A broken foot or ankle is painful. However, as the pain fades and it’s time to get back to some everyday activities, ensuring you keep the weight off an injured foot can limit your mobility. So, how do you choose the right mobility aid?

Physical and occupational therapists, share this article with your patients to find the right mobility support that fits their needs!

Crutches

Days Standard Aluminum Crutches

Pros

Crutches are the least expensive mobility devices for walking with an foot, ankle, or knee injury. They’re light and small making it easy to transport them by yourself. Just toss them in your car and go. The size also makes them easier to use in tiny spaces, like the bathroom. You can also use them on the stairs. Another benefit? Crutches build arm strength and exercise your uninjured leg too.

Cons

There are some negatives to having a broken leg and crutches. Using crutches requires upper body strength and good balancing skills, otherwise, you’re at risk for falling and injuring yourself further. Crutches offer less stability than a wheelchair or knee walker. This means it can be hard to use them if it’s slippery from rain or snow, and make it harder to hold objects while walking, especially drinks that can spill. Additionally, while a properly fitted crutch should reduce pressure on your leg injury, the added pressure can lead to shoulder, arm, or hand pain overtime.

Crutches are my choice: Days Standard Aluminum Crutches are height adjustable for a good fit. Use these crutches to keep the weight off of an injured foot, ankle, or knee.

Wheelchair

The Drive Silver Sport 2 Wheelchair

Pros

A wheelchair is convenient because you can carry objects on your lap or hold them in a bag or on a tray as they don’t require any balancing. It’s easy to carry around essentials from a magazine, to a TV remote, to groceries. It’s more comfortable choice for many people, compared to crutches. Wheelchairs have the most stability of all the mobility aids and are great non-weightbearing devices after major breaks. Plus, you can use the wheelchair in place of a kitchen or desk chair without needing to transfer.

Cons

Wheelchairs also have the drawbacks you’d probably expect. They are bigger and heavier giving you poor mobility in tight areas, including the bathroom. The size makes transporting them in a car more difficult. Obviously, unlike crutches, you can’t use a wheelchair on the stairs. This means using the elevator in public and figuring out another way to overcome any stairs in your home. The largest negative is that having a wheelchair for a broken leg doesn’t let your uninjured leg do any work. This means both of your legs will be weak and require more exercise when you start walking again.

A wheelchair sounds like the best aid for me: The Drive Silver Sport 2 Wheelchair is convenient and customizable. Choose between three armrest types and then decide if you want swing-away footrests or elevating leg rests. It even has a pocket to hold smaller items.

Knee Walkers

Days Steerable Knee Walker

Pros

Knee walkers are also known as knee scooters. For those deciding between knee walker or crutches, walkers are the best of both worlds. You get the flexibility of crutches with the stability of a wheelchair. The standing mobility assistance is helpful for a variety of chores and routine tasks. For example, you can cook and do the dishes at counter height. It’s also easier to wash your hands and brush your teeth. Knee walkers move quickly and keep your uninjured leg and the thigh of your injured leg exercised and strong.

Cons

However, you can’t use a knee walker if your knee is injured. It also has two of the same disadvantages as wheelchairs. First, you can’t use the device on the stairs. Second, while lighter than a wheelchair, a knee walker can still be hard to transport. Finally, an orthopedic scooter is the most expensive option. So you need to evaluate if the freedom it provides is worth the price.

A knee walker is the perfect fit for me: There are a variety of knee walkers available. Some don’t have steerable handles meaning you need to pick up and turn the knee scooter (like a walker). Thankfully, the Days Steerable Knee Walker steers and also has hand brakes. The size makes it easy to maneuver in smaller spaces. It supports your non-weight bearing foot or ankle and makes moving around easier.

7 Other Must-Haves During Recovery

1. An Ice Pack

When using a scooter or crutches as mobility aids, it’s helpful to apply ice to your cast to reduce inflammation and encourage healing. TheraPearl Hot and Cold Packs have a pack that’s designed to fit around your ankle and others you could use for your foot.

TheraPearl Hot and Cold Packs

Wedge Pillow

2. A wedge pillow

Keeping your cast elevated helps reduce swelling. It also can be used to position your leg while sleeping. The Rolyan SleepRite Folding Wedge can be used as a leg wedge while healing and a comfortable back support once you’re healed.

3. Cast Protector

Keep your cast dry while showering or bathing by using a Carex Cast Protector. A tight seal keeps out water and lets you shower without worries.

Carex Cast Protector

Crutch Mate Pads

4. Crutch Cover

If you decide to use crutches, these Crutch-Mate Pads can make you more comfortable. The gel pad reduces friction to alleviate your pain.

5. Wheelchair Cushion

Decided to use a wheelchair instead? A seat cushion like the Sammons Preston Gel-Foam Cushion adds comfy padding. It has a dual-chamber gel pack for soothing pressure relief.

Sammons Preston Gel Foam Cushion

Rolyan Stabilizer Air Walker

6. Walking Boot

After your cast is removed, your doctor might recommend a walking boot for continued leg injury support. This Rolyan Stabilizer Air Walker offers support as you transition to walking again. The rocker bottom encourages a normal gait while the air system absorbs shock to reduce your pain.

7. TheraBand Resistance Bands

TheraBand Professional Latex Resistance Bands can be used for arm workouts while you have your cast on. Shoulder Chest Flies, Elbow Extension, and Shoulder Bench Press exercises can all be done while sitting.

TheraBand Professional Latex Resistance Bands

You can use the same resistance band after your cast comes off. First, make sure any exercises are cleared by your doctor, and work with a PT/OT to get back to activities you love. Try exercises like Ankle Inversion, Ankle Eversion, Ankle Plantar Flexion, and Calf Raise exercises to strengthen your foot, ankle, and leg at home.

Medical Disclaimer: The information provided on this site, including text, graphics, images and other material, are for informational purposes only and are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.