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Air travel after ankle surgery –

So, you can’t play tennis, let alone walk….rehabbing from an ankle surgery takes months.  When I found out that I had to have extensive ankle surgery I wondered if I would have to cancel my trip to the Miami Open. My husband and I were looking forward to experiencing the Miami Open at its new venue, the Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Florida.  After getting my doctor’s permission, we decided to plan wisely to make traveling and the entire experience as painless as possible.  The goal was to still be able to do something you love while rehabbing your ankle!

Call your airline

We called our airlines (United Airlines) and requested wheelchair assistance added to my reservation.  Once this was done we just needed to report to the wheelchair assistance area of the airport.  This service provided an escort through TSA in a wheelchair, all the way to the door of the plane (travel tip:  call in advance for wheelchair assistance).

What you need to travel

rehab ankle travel - collapsible crutch -

Collapsible crutches.  I checked out if Amazon had such a thing and they did!  I wanted my crutches to fit in the overhead bin so I could easily access them when needed.  It was a good call, because my regular crutches would not fit in the overhead bin.

Gel crutch pads for my crutches.  I bought red ones!  Without the gel pads on the crutches, it would have been very painful to use crutches for any length of time.

Knee Scooter.  My knee scooter was gate checked so that we would have it right when we arrived to our destination (travel tip: knee scooters are treated the same as wheelchairs by the airlines).  Sometimes you get funny looks from others while riding your knee scooter.  Other times people would approach me and say what did you do to your ankle?  And then they would tell us their ankle surgery story and the fact that they loved their knee scooter.  One guy said  “I still have my scooter..I miss using it!” My knee scooter was great to have while rehabbing my ankle around home, and especially when traveling.   I could not have functioned without it.

rehab ankle travel - knee scooter -

Foot sling.  This can be attached to the airplane tray in front of you, allowing for some support for your leg.  I also used the foot sling as a pad over my crutches when I rested my leg on crutches.  I read many reviews on this product and thought for the price point, it was worth a try.

rehab ankle travel - foot sling -

rehab ankle travel – foot sling –

A backpack.  It is almost impossible to carry a hand bag or shoulder bag when using crutches.  The backpack can be worn on your back.  It can also be placed on the handlebars of the knee scooter.

rehab ankle travel -backpack -

rehab ankle travel -backpack –

Reusable ice bag.  My best travel purchase for my ankle injury was the reusable ice bag with velcro strap.  I was able to ice my ankle throughout my trip.  Many people came up to me and said, what a great idea, where did you buy the ice bag?

rehab ankle travel - ice bag with strap -

rehab ankle travel – ice bag with strap –

Compression socks.  There are many brands of compression socks available.  I prefer the Dr. Motion compression socks.  They were comfortable.  I was concerned about swelling so it was easy to wear the compression socks to protect the ankle, as well as help reduce swelling and discomfort.

Once you arrive

We found it very helpful to communicate that we need assistance to our hotel (The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne) and to the venue (Miami Open).  We found that they were very accommodating, but you need to ask!  (travel tip: while at the pool, I was able to work out my arms while lying on a floaty.  My arms were tired after several laps, but it felt great to exercise).    The resort staff made sure that my room was not too far from the elevator with easy access to where I needed to go.  They also provided me with extra pillows to elevate my foot along with a bucket of ice for my ice bag!  While at the resort, the staff would ask me if I needed help, and if there was anything they could do to assist or make me more comfortable.  It was very comforting to know that the resort had had my back.

We were concerned about the tennis venue, so we called ahead and found that we needed to purchase regular parking.  Once we did that, we were required to show our handicap placard so that we were able to park close to the venue.  When we arrived to the stadium, we asked for assistance at the guest services desk.  They were happy to provide handicap seating for us, if we so desired.  In addition, they told us to go to the wheelchair assistance at the front gate, to check out a wheelchair for the event.  We tried both options and it worked.  We had a great time at our event.

Last words

Traveling with an ankle injury, after surgery was not the easiest thing to do.   I would recommend traveling with a companion.  My husband was instrumental in anticipating my needs, and making me successful with my travel.  It was almost relaxing.   Seeking assistance was my best advice for traveling with an ankle injury.  We found that the staff of United Airlines, our resort (the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne), as well as the venue, went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable.  At the Miami Open, we were pleasantly surprised when their response was “we want you to have a memorable experience and enjoy the tennis.”  So, with a little planning,  traveling after surgery can go smoothly, while enjoying the things you like to do.


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