Over the years, you probably saw a person on crutches countless times but never once paused to give it another thought. Now, when fate has put you in a place where this mobility aid will be your saving grace, you are surprised how little you know about one of the most common mobility supports. The different types of crutches available have you looking for an answer to the obvious question - What would be the right one for you? Choosing the right type of crutch makes a big difference to one’s safety and stability. Proper usage and the correct size may reduce the risk of falls or further damage to joints.
Acting as a substitute for the injured leg, these mobility aids broaden the support base to maintain balance and stability. Hence, arm strength, posture, coordination, and balance are things that must be factored in before choosing the right crutch. Lower limb injuries, such as ankle sprain, broken ankle, cast care, knee injury, broken foot or toe, etc., often necessitate the use of these aids. Crutches are also used by amputees, paralytics, and people with disabilities who have trouble walking. They allow the user an upright posture and help maneuver in places inaccessible to wheelchairs.
Crutches help bear the weight of an individual, and therefore, it is important they are custom-fitted. The correct choice and application help minimize complications such as weakened hand, wrist, and forearm muscle and underarm nerve damage.
Underarm and Forearm are two of the most common types of crutches. The type of injury and recommendation of trained personnel is what helps you choose between the two crutch types.
Earlier, underarm or auxiliary crutches had only pads to support the armpits. Still, today, many of these come equipped with shock-absorbing rubber bars that can be comfortably placed under the arm while walking. Underarm crutches are suitable for temporary injuries, disabilities such as ankle sprains, knee injuries, or recovery from a surgical procedure. Little training is required to use these types of crutches, and they are inexpensive. Two simple functionalities are height adjustments and hand grip height adjustments. Correct size and fit are highly important, as the wrong choice can affect muscles and nerves under the arm.
For safety purposes, crutches must be measured correctly to avoid falls and injuries
There should be a distance of 2-3 fingers between the crutch pad and the armpit (around 5 cm)
The elbow must be flexed at an angle of 30 degrees and be at par with the top of the pelvis when one holds the handle grip
Bodyweight should be supported by the handgrips and not the underarms to avoid damaging the nerves
Crutch tips should rest approximately 2 inches forward and 6 inches outside the feet to provide proper balance
Forearm crutches have an open cuff that grips around the user's forearm. Also known as elbow or the Lofstrand crutch, they are used by amputees and people with lifelong or permanent disabilities owing to polio or multiple sclerosis. This type is easier to use as it offers greater freedom of movement, and people can choose to navigate over rough terrains or up and down stairways.
The crutch should be 6inches (15cm) in front of your foot and 2-4 inches (5-10cm) to the side of the foot
The height of the handgrips should be at wrist level
The cuff should be adjusted 1 inch below the elbow
If the height is properly adjusted, the elbow will be flexed at 30 degrees when you hold the handgrips
For a first-time user, it is safe to follow instructions from a designated health expert. Research has shown that the wrist receives one to three times the body weight when swinging the crutches while walking, an extra load the upper body was not designed to sustain. Thus, when the need arises to use crutches, it is best to transition slowly into a regular routine to limit the additional stress on the wrists and avoid the risk of injury to another part of the body.
There is a wide range of crutch accessories that can enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of both underarm and forearm crutches. They include:
Crutch tips – The tips are the foundation of your crutches, and a faulty tip can result in slips and falls. There are multiple crutch tip options in the form of latex tips, ice crutch attachments, and many more.
Pads and covers – Pads and covers are usually used with underarm crutches, where pads and covers such as gel pads, non-latex pads, fleece covers, and cushy gel covers are used to cover the shoulder rest. They offer great comfort and ease of use.
Grips – Grips are an important part of the crutch since a rough and uneasy grip can cause discomfort, rashes, and falls. Sturdy, high-quality hand grips can help enhance the experience by allowing easy use of this mobility aid.
Using the stairs with this mobility equipment can be a challenging task. Technically, it is safest to go up and down the stairs when seated, but many a time, it isn’t practical.
Going up the stairs with crutches (when seated):
Going up the stairs with crutches (when standing):
Going down the stairs with crutches (when seated):
Going down the stairs with crutches (when standing):
Whether you need it for a short duration or a longer period, a well-chosen crutch will go a long way in mobility independence and an injury-free life.
At HPFY, we have different types of crutches that help for excellent support during mobility and help you easily maneuver in all kinds of spaces and environments. Health Products For You has been online since 2002 to cater to its varied global clientele successfully. Shop from our wide range of crutches and get exclusive discounts on all that you buy. Explore now!
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Taikhum Sadiq has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2016.
He is an archaeology student and is passionate about learning about the past and how it impacts our future. He believes ...
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