Crutches are a very popular option for those in need of mobility aids. Crutches are designed to transfer the weight from your lower body to your upper body, thus allowing you to move around more easily if you have an injury or disability. We have put together a few tips for how to use your crutches properly:
Get the right type of crutches
If you find yourself in need of crutches, then it is vitally important that you speak with your physician about which type is best suited to you and your needs. There are a variety of crutches that you can choose from, however, the most common are underarm crutches, known as Axillary crutches, and forearm crutches, which are known as Lofstrand crutches.
How you use your crutches will depend on the type of crutches you receive. For instance, the axillary crutches are best used for those who have suffered a short-term injury, such as ligament damage in the lower body, fractures or broken bones. Forearm crutches contain a plastic cuff, where the user can place their hand. This offers support to the grip and enables people living with long term disabilities to transfer the weight to the upper body.
Make sure that your physician fits the crutch correctly to your body type and size, as this will prevent any further strains or discomfort. It is much easier to use a crutch that has been properly fitted to your specifications.
Practise to use them at home
Crutches, like any mobility aid, take time to master and we recommend spending a few hours at home getting used to the crutches before attempting more difficult terrain or stairs.
Simply put, the crutch will become an extension of your body. Avoiding pain will require understanding how much weight you should exert on your upper and lower body. Your physician should provide you with these details, and you may need to rethink how you walk, and even change your pattern of walking. When moving, try to put both crutches in front of you and move your body forward past the crutches, landing on your good leg. However, if you feel twinges in your arms or body, the crutches may be too far ahead of your body.
Get your posture right
One of the trickiest parts of getting used to crutches, is how to stand up properly from a seated position. The temptation is to not think about your injured leg, as standing is such a habit, however, getting up without the crutches could seriously set back your recovery or cause further problems.
The best way to navigate this issue is to put both the crutches into one hand and use your other hand to push off the chair or couch. The weight will then be put on your uninjured foot before you balance yourself with a crutch in both hands.
Bearing weight correctly
When you hold your crutches for the first time, it may feel more natural and easier to rest the weight into your armpits. This would be a big mistake and could potentially cause nerve damage to the area underneath your arms. Instead, you should make sure you are holding the grips tightly and bearing weight on your hands. You can do this by pushing down on the grips with some force.
Try to avoid putting too much pressure on yourself and take small steps to minimise the energy you are exerting, as well as the risk. Additionally, if you have one good leg, then use that and take the tripod position. This will relieve some of the work on the hands.
Know your environment
As soon as you get crutches. you need to rethink your surroundings and your daily routine. Certain things would be no hassle when you can walk naturally, however, crutches do make things more difficult. As previously mentioned, stairs can present a challenge, whilst the type of footwear you put on is also worth considering. Slippers or flip flops are unlikely to provide much support when you are using crutches. Additionally, avoid walking in the dark and take extra care when you are moving from one surface to another (such as tiled floor to the carpet).
You may also have to practise getting up and down the stairs, which can be a nuisance. If you have a handrail (bannister) on the staircase, place the crutches in your hand and grip the handrail with the other. The handrail can take the weight on your injured leg, whilst your good one ascends the staircase.