For patients who opt for robotic partial knee replacement over total knee replacement, the benefits in healing time are immense. On average, you'll only spend about two weeks (instead of 6) using a walker while your knee heals and you learn to walk properly again. However, during those two weeks that walker is going to be critically important. Learn what you should do to make sure that you choose the right one. Here's how to pick a walker:
1.) Decide which is going to be more important: maneuverability or stability.
Before you pick a walker, talk with your doctor about the expectations you should have post-surgery. If your only health problem is arthritis, you're likely to have fatigue and a general lack of endurance while walking after the surgery, but no other particular problems walking. You can probably use the most maneuverable type of walker, which has four wheels.
If you're unsteady, have a history of falls, or are expecting difficulty with balancing for any reason, the most stable walker is going to be non-wheeled. You'll have to lift it, however, at every step, which can make movement slow and tiresome. Frankly, many patients don't like them, which is why you may see a few of these "converted" into semi-maneuverable ones with the aid of cut softballs on the legs in place of wheels.
The in-between model, with wheels only on the front, combines a little stability with a little maneuverability, allowing you to lean some of your weight onto the walker as you move. The back legs, without the wheels, keep it from slipping out of your control and causing you to fall. If you're fairly confident about your stability but want a little extra security, this is the wisest choice.
2.) Walkers come in different sizes and you need to find the right one for you.
Some walkers are adjustable to a variety of sizes while others have to be cut to fit the person who will be using it. Do not buy a walker until you know that it can be adjusted to your size. A walker that is the wrong size can put you off balance, strain your hips, shoulders, wrists, elbows and even the knee you're trying to heal. There are also lighter models, meant for smaller individuals, and bariatric models that are designed for larger individuals.
To tell if your walker is the right size, step inside it and put your hands down at your sides. The walker's handles should be even with the crease in your wrist.
3.) Get the right kind of accessories for your walker.
There are two basically indispensable accessories for walkers: proper grips for the handles and a basket. Some walkers simply have a rounded metal handle and many others come with a hard plastic grip. Both of these can be hard to use and irritate your hands on hot days, especially if you're prone to sweating. Find a walker that comes with a larger, softer grip. Cloth grips are sold to make the handles easier to grab and softer on your hands.
A basket accessory is an absolute must when using a walker. You can find everything from quilted "pouch" style bags to basic wire metal baskets that will attach to the front of your walker. There are smaller ones designed to attach to the sides. If you've never used a walker before, you'll probably be surprised just how often you carry something with you from room to room. Having a basket accessory will keep you from needing someone to bring things to you or trying to operate the walker one-handed while you carry your own book or drink along.
For more information about robotic knee surgery and recovery, contact clinics like the Noyes Knee Institute.