Learning the right way to use crutches is not child’s play. Though certain types are easier to master than others, precaution and safety should be your priority while using any type of crutches. From the condition of your crutches to the very surface you walk on, various factors can make or ‘break’ your health, quite literally.
The efficiency of your crutches
Always check the different parts of your crutches to make sure it can support your weight and provide proper balance. Most importantly, the rubber stoppers on the base of the crutches must be checked frequently for proper grip and rigidity. Furthermore, before you start using any type of crutches, they must be adjusted to the adequate height to suit you and ensure no nuts or screws are left loose.
The type of footwear you choose also plays a major role in providing safety and stability. Loose slip-ons are not your friend, so embrace a comfy, supportive pair of shoes with low heels. Knowing the right way to use different types of crutches can help you stay safe and avoid further injuries.
If you are using underarm crutches, here are a few things to keep in check:
- Proper padding below your armpit is necessary for prolonged ease of use.
- When adjusting the height of underarm crutches, stand up straight with a 10 cm gap between the side of your toes and the tip of the crutch.
- Though the name makes it sound like it should fit right under your arm, the top of these crutches should have a good 2 to 3 fingers space from your armpit.
- Leaning on top of your underarm crutches can cause numbness in your arms and asserts unnecessary pressure on your nerves.
When it comes to elbow crutches, the gap between your feet and crutches should be 10 cm as well but adjust the height so that your hip bone is parallel to the crutch handles. The elbow support should be about three to four fingers below your elbow and remember; the function of these cuffs are to support your elbows; not to bear your weight.
Think about these too
Once you and your crutches are ready for a walk, also confirm that the floor is too. Avoid wet surfaces or slippery rugs at any cost!
It can be quite tricky when taking a seat or getting up from one. Never trust your crutches in this process. Instead, you may hold both of them under one arm and use your other arm to push yourself up from the chair. Similarly, anytime you sit down, move both your crutches to one hand and lower yourself slowly with proper support from your other arm on the chair.
Another factor you need to consider is the type of injury or disability you have. The use of crutches is quite different in case of an injury than a permanent disability. Moreover, the steps involved in it can vary slightly depending upon your weight-bearing status which needs to be confirmed by your physiotherapist (or surgeon if you have undergone surgery).
If you are not allowed to put any amount of weight through your affected leg, always keep your foot off the ground while walking or climbing stairs. Even in the case of full weight-bearing status, only exert as much weight as you painlessly can. That being said, a thumb rule to stay safe while walking is to go by the order: crutches – sore leg – stronger leg.
Staying safe on stairs
Anybody who uses crutches knows that stairs are a risky affair. The best way to be safe is to get the extra help of handrails while climbing stairs. The order of movement is pretty different when going up the stairs. You should always step up your stronger leg first, confirm proper grip and then bring your sore leg up, followed by the crutch. While climbing down, you may place your crutch on the step below and after making sure the whole tip is touching the surface, you can move your sore leg down followed by the stronger leg.
Take it slow
The process may feel daunting and it’s easier said than done. But there are many accessories out there like crutchgecko to make the use of crutches more comfortable. Remember to ask for help when needed and never rush while using crutches. Though there is no race to be won, slow and steady is for sure the safest way to go!
I know what you’re thinking: “Someone should have invented smarter crutches by now”
I was thinking the same thing. So, in case you haven’t guessed by now, we have developed a new product to solve this and many other common issues for crutch users.