Ranking the 5 Most Popular Mobility Devices for a Knee Injury (2023)

After a knee injury or surgery, you might be required to be "non-weight-bearing" for a matter of days, weeks, or even months—making it necessary to find a mobility device to help you perform your day-to-day activities until you heal. While mobility aids for a lower leg injury (broken foot, foot surgery, ankle injury, sprained ankle) are fairly easy to find, knee injuries present an additional challenge because you can't lean on the knee itself.

The main mobility aid options for a knee injury are:

  • Seated knee scooter

  • Manual wheelchair

  • Mobility scooter

  • Power wheelchair

  • Crutches

The best mobility device for your personal situation will depend on the amount of time you need to be non-weight-bearing, your budget, your lifestyle, and any additional mobility requirements you have.

Seated Knee Scooter/Knee Walker

Regular knee scooters, also called knee walkers, are great for getting around if you have lower leg injuries such as an injured foot or ankle. However, if the knee itself is compromised, a seated knee scooter will need to be used instead.

Whereas knee scooters have a knee platform that supports the injured leg, seated knee scooters have a large gel-padded seat that you use to sit down while you rest the non-weight-bearing leg on a peg at the front. To move around, you propel yourself forward with your good leg. Most seated knee scooters come with a convenient front leg platform to support your good leg while you rest.



  • Can only be used on flat surfaces

  • Can't be used on stairs or up ramps

  • The large turning radius can make it hard to navigate small spaces indoors


A seated knee scooter is good for people with one strong leg, good balance, and plenty of energy. Enjoy using this device in flat, spacious places such as shopping malls, parking lots, amusement parks, and sidewalks. It's also a good choice for travel as it's battery-free and folds up into a small package for transport.

Manual Wheelchair

Another cost-effective option for strong, energetic users is a classic manual wheelchair, which keeps the weight off your injured leg while allowing you to exercise your upper body.

If you live in a single-story house or apartment with wide doorways, a manual wheelchair can help you get around while resting your knee. Most neighborhoods are designed with accessibility ramps, too, so you should be able to get to most places you need to go in the chair.


  • Lightweight wheelchair rental is very affordable.

  • You'll develop good upper body strength.

  • Many neighborhoods in the U.S. are designed to be wheelchair-accessible.


  • Using a manual wheelchair can be tiring, especially at first.

  • Wheelchairs can't be used to climb stairs.

  • It can be difficult to maneuver in and out of the bathroom in a wheelchair.

  • Both your good and bad legs will lose muscle tone from disuse.


If you have good upper body strength and only need to keep weight off your knee for a few weeks, a manual wheelchair could be a viable option. Make sure the wheelchair and footrests are properly fitted for your height, and have a physical therapist check your technique. In addition, ask your wheelchair provider if they can add a straight-leg extension on the chair to ensure that your knee stays straight or slightly bent instead of at a 90-degree angle.

Mobility Scooter

Mobility scooters are a popular option for covering longer distances and riding over rough terrain. They can be especially helpful for older adults with a knee injury who no longer have the strength or stamina to push a manual wheelchair. Electric scooters consist of a padded seat, a battery, a platform, handlebars, and a tiller for steering.

Motorized scooters are available with three or four wheels and come in a range of styles from basic, lightweight travel models to heavy-duty, all-terrain models. Mobility Plus Colorado in Denver, for example, has basic scooters that weigh 86 lbs when fully assembled as well as top-tier models that weigh 174 lbs and drive up to 15 miles on a single charge.


  • Motorized scooters don't require self-propulsion.

  • The drive system and brakes allow you to go up and down hills and ramps safely.

  • You can travel long distances on a scooter.

  • All-terrain mobility scooters can be driven over gravel and grass.


  • You won't get any exercise while riding on a motorized scooter.

  • Electric scooters cost more than knee scooters and manual wheelchairs.

  • It can be hard to navigate smaller spaces in a mobility scooter, especially indoors.


If a motorized scooter would be more practical for you than a seated knee scooter or manual wheelchair, three-wheel models are generally best for indoor use (because they have a tighter turning radius) and four-wheel models are generally best for outdoor use because they offer greater stability. If balance is a concern, a four-wheel mobility scooter is usually best.

Electric Wheelchair

If the person with a knee injury only has one good hand, consider an electric wheelchair. Rather than being steered by a tiller (that requires two hands to operate), electric wheelchairs are operated by a joystick located on either the left or right armrest.

While power wheelchairs move a little slower than mobility scooters (3.5mph compared to 5mph for a standard top-tier motorized scooter), they offer the most customization and are built for excellent postural support. Compared to mobility scooters, they also have a much tighter turning radius, making them ideal for indoor and outdoor use.


  • Electric wheelchairs offer full postural support.

  • Power wheelchairs are stable and secure.

  • You can operate an electric wheelchair with one hand.

  • A power wheelchair doubles as a chair.

  • A power chair is ideal for use in tight spaces.


  • An electric wheelchair is a significant investment (keep in mind that you can also rent power wheelchairs).

  • You can't drive an electric wheelchair up stairs.

  • You don't get any exercise while using a power wheelchair.

  • Some heavy-duty electric wheelchairs don't come apart for transportation.


Power wheelchairs are a significant investment but offer excellent indoor and outdoor mobility and maximum comfort and support. If you decide to go with this option, choose a model that's designed for your weight, height, and intended use, and learn how to charge your power wheelchair batteries correctly.


If you're looking up "mobility devices for a knee injury," it's probably because you want something other than crutches. However, these simple, classic mobility aids still have their merits.

While perhaps not as comfortable or flashy as a mobility scooter or power wheelchair, crutches are the most cost-effective mobility aids available and take up very little space when traveling or moving around the house. Today, most crutches come with padded armrests and an adjustable height.


  • Crutches are extremely cost-effective.

  • Crutches can be used to walk up stairs.

  • Crutches can be used in small spaces, such as bedrooms and bathrooms.

  • Using crutches exercises your good leg, preventing muscle wastage on that side.


  • Crutches require good upper body strength.

  • Extended use of crutches can lead to underarm discomfort and crutch paralysis if used incorrectly.

  • Crutches are not suitable for walking long distances.

  • Crutches don't leave you with any free hands for doing other things.


When renting crutches, look for a model that features an adjustable height, rubber hand grips, and padded underarm rests. Always put your weight on your hands and not your armpits to avoid developing crutch paralysis.

Other Mobility Aids You Might Need

Aside from using personal mobility devices for a knee injury, people who live in two-story homes or houses with a patio or steps might need some additional equipment to complete their accessibility plan. While individual needs vary, common equipment can include:

  • A stairlift. A stairlift is an electric device with a seat mounted on a track that carries a person up and down stairs.

  • A wheelchair ramp. You might need a wheelchair ramp to load and unload a power wheelchair or mobility scooter from a van or SUV.

  • A vertical lift platform. Vertical platform lifts are used to raise and lower mobility devices from a patio or down a flight of steps when there isn't enough space for a ramp.

  • A recliner lift chair. A recliner lift chair is just like a regular recliner, but it’s designed with an actuator that pushes the chair upward and allows you to rise from the chair easily without putting strain on your knees. You can move from the recliner to your primary mobility device without struggling.

Take It Slow

During the non-weight-bearing period, it's important to follow your doctor's instructions and avoid "cheating" and putting any weight on the knee. This can jeopardize the healing process and move any pins (if used) out of their place.

Once you begin to regain mobility and are allowed to put weight on the leg, be sure to take it very slowly, gradually building up strength as your knee and your doctor allow. Your physical therapist will usually give you exercises to safely strengthen the injured knee.

During this transitional period, using a light mobility device such as a cane or rollator (if you struggle with balance) can help you build up strength gradually and avoid putting too much strain on your knee. In the long run, going "slow and steady"—while frustrating—is faster than having to complete the healing process all over again.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Velia Krajcik

Last Updated: 13/08/2023

Views: 5889

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (74 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Velia Krajcik

Birthday: 1996-07-27

Address: 520 Balistreri Mount, South Armand, OR 60528

Phone: +466880739437

Job: Future Retail Associate

Hobby: Polo, Scouting, Worldbuilding, Cosplaying, Photography, Rowing, Nordic skating

Introduction: My name is Velia Krajcik, I am a handsome, clean, lucky, gleaming, magnificent, proud, glorious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.