Alternatives to crutches

On March 7th I had surgery to fix my right achilles tendon.

For those of you who’re curious this, or this, are both reasonable descriptions of what was done, as per my surgeon. For those of you who aren’t THAT curious, if you know someone who tore their achilles, well, my recovery after surgery is identical to what they went through.

What this means for me? Two and a half weeks of completely no weight bearing on that foot at all, and weeks of only partially weight bearing, and then weeks of PT.

Now I’ve done the crutches thing before. They’re annoying, and tie up your hands, but not the end of the world when all you need to do is reduce the pressure on a sprained ankle.

For completely non-weight bearing? They suck. I mean, they do the job, but what a pain in the ass!

Turns out there are alternatives however. First option is a rolling knee scooter thing. The second option is the iWalk. And lucky me, I get to play with both! My insurance covered (in full!) a knee scooter from the same DME that supplies my cpap stuff. And I made the decision to order an iWalk as I had doubts about using the rolling scooter in the house with the dogs around.

My knee scooter isn’t identical to the one linked above, but it’s close. VERY easy to use on any reasonably flat surface. Works ok on short pile carpet. The dogs are convinced it is THE DEVIL, and we won’t discuss the cat’s response to it. Bumps aren’t quite so nice, even fairly small bumps, and I’m glad I don’t have to rely on it to get into the house cause steps are a complete no-go, and it would require a not short ramp to get up to the height of my front door. Also, it requires at least one hand on the steering handlebars to steer and brake. And it doesn’t fit very well into tight spaces, like, my bathrooms. I did however take it for a proper spin yesterday, we needed to buy some things at my work, and so I went with my husband and took the scooter. On those flat concrete floors it’s pretty awesome and I was having to resist seeing how fast it’d go. There’s almost no learning curve to it though, you put your knee on the pad and push off. If you’re not used to a lot of walking etc you might find yourself with sore thighs afterwards, but really it’s about as easy to use as you can ask for. It’s easier to manage than crutches and requires less coordination to use than the crutches too.

The iWalk peg leg took a bit more getting used to. I do have a decent sense of balance to start with, which helps. I’m also in decent shape and used to walking/lifting/etc despite being overweight, all of which helps when using the iWalk. It did require assembly, and the assembly instructions are entirely on video, which I H.A.T.E, but the assembly is straightforward and easy enough. Its adjustable to fit a variety of heights, and I bought the slippery weather treads to put on mine since this is upstate NY and winter isn’t over regardless of what mother nature keeps trying to pull, having said that, I’m not sure I needed them, the tread it comes with are decent. My first few days using it I used one crutch (on the same side as the peg leg) to assist with balance, and kept my sessions using it fairly short (5-10 minutes). Once I got used to it however its great. While it has a hand-hold on the thigh to help with maneuvering in weird spots or getting over bumps its otherwise completely hands free use. I can go up and down stairs wearing it, though that also takes some getting used to, and you DO need to hold onto the handrail for that. The dogs and cat are FAR less bothered by it than they are by the scooter. The biggest downside is that you have to strap it on, which takes a minute, and then unstrap it to get it out of it, its not just grab and go like crutches or the scooter. Its also easier to forget my foot is sticking out behind me when I’m using it than it is with the scooter. It works better in tight spaces than the scooter, though I still have to be careful in the tight bathrooms here as I tend to bang my foot around.

Thoughts on both: it’s not an either-or thing, they’re both pretty awesome, both have things that make them less than ideal. But I hope if someone else out there is trying to decide which to purchase this’ll help!

Disclaimer: my insurance paid for the knee scooter no questions asked, and we paid for the iWalk ourselves. I was not in any way asked to do a review much less paid for a review, but I have had a couple friends ask me about the differences, and since I was typing it out for them I decided to do a full write up.

4 thoughts on “Alternatives to crutches”

  1. For when you’re wearing the iWalk you need these additional items:
    1). Eye patch
    2). Tri-corner hat or doo-rag bandana
    3). Stuffed parrot on your shoulder
    4). Speak in pirate lingo only, matey.

    Seriously Ruth, get well soon.

    • The additional needed items occured to me, especially as I keep calling it my peg leg….

      Thanks! Its going to be a slow healing process regardless, but here’s hoping it goes smoothly at least.

  2. Oh my, the whole experience doesn’t sound like fun. Hopefully you heal quickly and without complications!

    Glypto – that was pretty funny 😀

    • so far so good, I got the splint swapped for a boot this week, and I’m allowed to start putting weight on it, slowly!

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