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Choosing the best walker after knee replacement is an important part of recovery. I know this because I had knee replacement surgery and relied on a walker in the hospital, to get home and for the first week of rehab.
I was surprised that I was able to move around the day after surgery, but it wasn’t without a walker. It went everywhere with me including to my favorite chair, to bed, to the bathroom and on my daily walks around the house.
I didn’t realize how advanced walkers are because I remember the old walkers that didn’t have wheels. Thankfully my walker had wheels!
In this article we’ll discuss the best walker to use after knee replacement surgery. I’ll share my experience and how to prepare your house for a walker. I’ll also share how long I used my walker after TKR surgery.
Best Walker After Knee Replacement Surgery
|#1||Drive Medical||Yes – 4||Seat, Brakes, Basket, Adjustable||$$|
|#2||Deluxe 2 Button||Yes – 2||Adjustable||$$|
|#3||Hugo||Yes – 4||Seat, Brakes, Basket, Adjustable||$$$|
|#4||Drive Nitro Rollator||Yes – 4||Oversized wheels, Adjustable, Storage, Seat||$$$|
What Is A Walker (Components and Options)
A walker is a walking device typically used for seniors or people recovering from injury and surgery. In recent years walkers have improved in their appearance and functionality.
While the most basic walkers provide standing support, modern walkers offer the ability to move with little effort around the house with wheels, provide a seat, storage space, and brakes (for wheel control).
You’ll definitely need a walker after knee replacement surgery and you’ll want to make sure you chose the best type of walker. Let’s take a look at the 3 main types of walkers.
A) Stationary Walker (no wheels)
A stationary walker is the most basic walker. They have been around for decades and are useful to people that need the bare minimum.
Stationary walkers are stable and reliable but may not be the best option for moving around after knee replacement surgery because they lack wheels.
- Few parts (simple to use)
- Great for standing up and balance
- No wheels
- Price almost the same as 2 wheeled walkers
- Can scuff floors and carpets
- Not great for moving around
- Requires strength to pick up, move forward, and put down
B) Walker with 2 Wheels
More recently, medical designers began adding wheels to walkers to help make people more mobile. The worst part of a walker was having to pick it up and put it down.
Adding wheels allowed more control. The 2 wheeled walkers still have 4 points of contact with the ground.
In order to use the wheels properly you’ll have to raise the back legs off the ground (which may be annoying after TKR surgery). This takes minimal effort and should be adequate for most seniors or people recovering from knee replacement.
- Reasonable price
- More mobile than stationary walker
- Requires less strength than stationary walker
- Back legs can still damage carpets or floors
- Not the best for people who need to move a lot
- Requires more strength than 4 wheeled walkers
- Usually have no breaks for wheels
C) Walker with 4 Wheels and Extras
Modern walkers look great and have a lot of extras. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for and although these walkers are a little more expensive they are much easier to use.
As you recover from knee replacement you’ll want something that works indoors and outdoors. Wheels make it easier indoors for carpets and floors.
These walkers are a great investment for seniors who may need the walker as they get older.
- Color options
- 4 wheels make it easy to move indoors and outdoors
- Easier on carpets and floors
- Can move over bumps
- Have storage space for purse or belongings
- Hand brakes for the wheels
- Seat to sit on in case you get tired
- Usually a little more expensive
Why Walkers Are Perfect For After Knee Replacement Surgery
When I was moved from the recovery room to my hospital room my walker was waiting for me across from my bed. It was ready to go! Four hours after surgery the hospital physical therapist arrived in my room.
She moved the walker over to my bedside and said, “let’s get to work”. Soon after my air-cuffs and ice-cuff were removed, I was standing by my bed with the aid of the walker.
My first exercise was alternately lifting my legs (marching) while I held on to the walker. Next, since I did not have a catheter, I was asked to use the walker to go to the bathroom.
This was a much harder chore but without the walker it would not have been possible for me. It took some time but after 15 minutes I returned to my bed.
My only previous experience with major surgery (a spiral fracture of my right tibia) was using crutches for 8 months. This was forty years ago when I was in my twenties.
I don’t remember seeing walkers in the early 1970’s. The walker was a big improvement and much easier to get around with. I felt much more stable using the walker than if I had been given a pair of crutches.
I could put as much weight as I wanted to on my surgical knee, I could go as slow as I liked and I could rest as often as I wanted to. No pain in the armpits.
The next morning after surgery I was up on my walker again before breakfast. I went to the bathroom and I went for a short walk in the hallway.
After breakfast, the therapist returned and I used the walker to walk (a much longer walk) to the therapy room to take a stair-walking test.
I was wheeled out in a wheelchair to our car when I was discharged from the hospital but I did use the walker to get into the car. Once at home, I used the walker to get in to the house and to help me sit in my recliner. The walker and I were inseparable for the next five days.
5 Best Walkers After Knee Replacement Surgery
#1 Drive Medical – 4 Wheel Walker
If you’re looking for a quality walker after TKR surgery chances are you will come across the Drive Medical brand. Drive Medical, without a doubt, makes the best walkers on the market and they offer a lot of options.
Their best option is the four-wheel (non marking) walker that folds up. It comes with a number of features that we’ll mention but the reason it’s our best walker for knee replacement is the price.
Compared to the others on our list, this walker has every feature you need at a reasonable price that can’t be beat.
- 4 oversize wheels (indoors and outdoors)
- Chair with backrest
- Lightweight and folds for storage or car
- Adjustable handles
- Various colors
- 5 x 25.5 inches
- 20 lbs
- 300 lbs weight limit
- Lifetime warranty
Because it’s the most popular model, Drive Medical offers this walker in different colors (blue and red). It’s perfect for walking in and out of the house because the walker can be used as a seat at any time.
I like the seat and basket – these are two options I didn’t have on my walker that I wish I had. The seat is strong and supports up to 300 lbs. You can check out the Drive 4 Wheel on Amazon for a reasonable price.
I also like this company because they offer a limited lifetime warranty and it shows they stand behind their products. The walkers can be kept long after knee replacement and used later in life when you need support moving around.
If I was having another knee replacement surgery I’d definitely go with this model.
#2 Deluxe Two Button, 2 Wheel Walker
The Deluxe Two Button Walker is our 2nd best walker after knee replacement due to its low price. This walker is similar to the walker I used after knee replacement because it only has 2 wheels.
I really liked that this style walker folds up and can fit in a closet or garage. It’s extra lightweight so it’s easy to move around too. Adjusting the height of the device and using the product is simple.
What I didn’t like about my 2 wheel model was that sometimes the back posts dragged against the wood floor and our carpets. Over time the dragging could damage your floor. Also, there are no brakes with this walker.
The back posts will provide good stability to rest your weight on but I believe the 4 wheel walker is much better and only costs slightly more. The Drive 2 Wheel is the most affordable option and available at Amazon.
- 2 wheels
- Adjustable frame
- Lightweight (7.5 lbs)
- 5 x 24 inches (adjustable to 32 inches tall)
- 3-year warranty
- 350 lbs max weight
- Foldable to fit flat in small places
The weight of this walker is significantly less than my #1 ranked walker. It fits in tight spot and stores well because it folds flat. It’s also sturdy so it can carry your weight after knee replacement (up to 350 lbs).
If you’re on a strict budget this is a great option, however, it’s tough to beat the functionality and price of the #1 ranked walker (I prefer the 4 wheels and brakes).
#3 Hugo 4 Wheel Walker
The Hugo Elite Walker is a heavy duty walker with plenty of options. It looks similar to the #1 ranked walker and includes a closed pouch and closed basket for valuables.
The Hugo Walker also features 4 wheels and brakes for more control whether you’re inside or out. The seat and backrest is an additional feature that makes it perfect for people who can’t walk far due to knee replacement surgery.
The main reason this walker isn’t higher on my list is because of the price. Although it’s similar to the #1 ranked walker, it is twice the price (maybe because it has closed pouches to store valuables. Check out the reviews and price at Amazon.
- Adjustable seat and grip
- 4 wheels
- Easy assembly
- Pouches for storage
- 300 lbs max weight
- 5 x 24 x 30 inches
- Weighs 21 lbs
This walker is marketed for tall and large people (ideally from 4’3” – 6’2”) however some customers 6’4” and 300 lbs have said “it works great and offers plenty of support for big people”.
It weighs 21 lbs and folds up to fit in the back of a vehicle. Hugo Walkers have a 1 year limited warranty. With over 1,500 positive reviews this walker is well liked and one the best walkers to use after TKR surgery.
#4 Drive Nitro Rollator Walker
The Nitro Rollator is hands-down the most advanced walker on the market. The only reason it’s ranked #4 on my list is because it’s a little pricey, but if your health has no limits on price then this is the best walker to use after knee replacement.
The design is more advanced than the other options on our list and it has premium oversized wheels. Similar to other walkers it has a place to carry personal items, a seat, and a backrest. The seat and backrest are much nicer and supportive than the other options we’ve mentioned.
This walker also has brakes and an adjustable frame to accommodate different user heights.
- Oversized wheels (4)
- Seat and backrest
- Storage area
- Folds up with one hand (ultra-compact)
- 23 x 27.8 x 33.5 inches
- 5 lbs
- Lifetime limited warranty
According to customers, this walker will perform well on dirt and grass (not perfect but much better than the others). Customers also like that it comes in 3 colors (black, white, and red).
If you’re a very mobile person and need a walker that will get you around outside after knee replacement, then this is a great option. The quality is superior to most other walkers.
#5 Drive Walker (no wheels)
If you’re looking for the bare minimum, the Drive Medical walker with no wheels is a good option. It has the most simple design on my list and it’s the same type of walker that was offered decades ago.
There are no wheels, so be prepared to pick the walker up with each step. The walker is adjustable and has a nice sturdy frame that will help provide support standing up and sitting down – you’ll want a walker close to your bed after knee replacement surgery.
- No wheels
- Sturdy, adjustable frame
- Lightweight aluminum frame (6 lbs)
- Folds to fit in closet or car
- 5 x 22 x 32 inches (32-39” height)
What I don’t like about this walker is there are no wheels. Wheels might seem like a minor thing but I know you’ll get tired of picking up the walker with each step – this is why the wheeled walkers are so great (they glide around the house). I used the 2 wheeled walker and wish I had the 4 wheeler. You can check out the Drive Walker bargain price on Amazon.
I also don’t like the price of this walker. If you look closely, the 2 wheeled walker on our list is only 1 dollar more than this 0 wheeled option – that’s a no-brainer decision for me.
This walker does fold up nicely and is lightweight. Depending on your specific needs it might be the best walker post TKR surgery.
How To Use A Walker After Knee Replacement
Using a walker does not take a lot of practice. I was not given much instruction other than to keep two hands on the walker and put the majority of my weight on my arms and good leg to begin with.
I took small slow steps initially and practiced putting a small amount of weight on my surgical leg. The wheels on the front make it easy to move but the back didn’t have wheels (maybe would have been better with 4 wheels).
It is also easy to stop and rest as often as you like. Some walkers are equipped with a built-in seat so that you can sit down and rest but mine didn’t include it.
I was given instruction for using the toilet, which I will share. At first I didn’t realize that you just push the walker over the toilet and urinate if you are a male (sorry ladies).
I thought you pushed the walker aside and had to balance while urinating or sit on the toilet. The walker made urinating very easy.
On day 3-post surgery when my home physical therapist started working with me I began to take short walks outside with my walker. At that time I could not move around the house or attempt any kind of walking without the walker. I was always confident with the walker and I was never afraid of falling.
How Long Do You Have To Use A Walker After Knee Replacement (My Experience)
On day six after surgery, I began to use hiking poles as well as my walker. By the end of the first week, I was using the hiking poles more than the walker.
When I transitioned to hiking poles (read my article about the best walking poles) I still kept the walker by my bed and used it to stand and urinate at night into the hospital provided urine bottle so that I did not have to make the walk to the bathroom.
I also used it when getting out of the shower or while brushing my teeth. During week two I used the walker some of the time but by the end of the second-week post surgery, I was not using it at all except at night.
How To Prepare Your House For Using A Walker After TKR
The walker is somewhat wide and you need to position your furniture so that you can maneuver the walker easily from room to room. Remove all small rugs. Small rugs can be a hazard and are easy to get caught in the walker wheels and they are easy to slip on, especially bath mats located in your bathrooms.
- A smooth floor like wood or tile makes it much easier to use a walker. The tile and wood floors made it much easier to get around. We have a large rug in the living room and it was easy to move around on it too.
We have two bathrooms. One is very large and the other off our master bedroom is very small. The walker fit in both the bathrooms but it was much harder to maneuver the walker in the small bathroom.
The home physical therapist checked our bathrooms, our furniture layout and for stairs and thresholds that I would have to negotiate. She too looked for small rugs or any other conditions that would make it difficult or dangerous to use the walker.
- Keep your walker as close to where you are sitting or sleeping. Prepare an easy to reach space for it so that you can easily access it and it will be out of the way of the rest of the family
The walker worked well on our concrete patio and the sidewalks in our development. It rolled over the expansion joints very easily. We have tapered sidewalks at intersections in our development that made it easy to cross streets with the walker.
Walkers have multiple uses. They are great for older people who experience trouble with balance and they are great for people of all ages who are recovering from surgery.
When I was preparing for TKR surgery I looked at a few different models of walkers. I used the 2 wheel walker and it helped me tremendously in the first few days after knee replacement. In fact, I don’t think I could have moved from the recliner to the bathroom without it.
I always used the walker during the first week and then less in the following week. I was able to move around the house and even used it on short walks outside. The wheels made it easy to move and kept me from having to pick up the walker each time I took a step.
Looking back I would have liked a walker with 4 wheels. I mentioned a few on this list and believe they are a great investment for knee replacement recovery. I’ll also use the walker as I get older – a long term investment.
Hopefully my story has shed some light on walkers and what to consider before making a purchase. A walker is essential and choosing the right one will be instrumental in your recovery.
Thanks for reading another one of my articles. Visit my blog again to read more about my recovery and my tips.