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What is a Knee Crutch?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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A knee crutch is a type of orthopedic crutch that can be used to enhance mobility for people with injuries or conditions that affect the lower leg. Some knee crutches strap onto the leg, to allow the user hands-free mobility. Other knee crutches have a knee rest, padded feet, and a handle that allows the user to move the knee crutch when walking. Still other knee crutches have wheeled feet, and move forward under pressure from the user's knee. Knee crutches are typically used to facilitate recovery from an injury below the knee, but they can also benefit amputees, diabetics, and people suffering from painful conditions like gout.

The primary benefit of the knee crutch may be that it typically offers wider mobility than an underarm crutch. Knee crutches may also be more comfortable for most users. They generally allow the injured leg to remain bent at a 90-degree angle, with the knee of the injured leg resting on a padded, and often contoured, surface.

Athletic users may benefit most from a strap-on knee crutch, which operates in much the same way as a prosthetic leg. A strap-on crutch can allow the user more freedom of mobility and exercise than can other types of crutches, and doesn't typically occupy the hands. Manufacturers claim that this type of crutch can help the user retain muscle strength while rehabilitating from a broken leg, foot, or ankle.

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Persons suffering from conditions such as diabetic ulceration or gout might benefit from an orthopedic knee trolley. This type of knee crutch generally has a wide padded shin rest and a wheeled base. The knee trolley is typically a hands-free apparatus, since it can generally move with the user, under pressure from the leg. This type of orthopedic crutch can offer the user a means of elevating the injured leg while seated, if necessary.

For others, an orthopedic knee crutch with a handle might be preferable. This type of knee crutch doesn't usually have wheels, so it may be safer for climbing stairs and moving across some surfaces. It's often more compact, and therefore easier to use indoors and in tight spaces. This type of knee crutch generally leaves only one hand free at a time, since the other hand must be used to move the crutch while walking. This type of crutch can also offer a means of elevating the leg, and is generally sturdy enough to be used as an impromptu seat.

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