Crutches

Walking with crutches and knee brace

Crutches are a mobility aid to provide you with support and protection while on your feet. Using crutches takes a little instruction before getting started, some coordination and then practice.

The person that has provided the crutches will hopefully have fitted you properly.  The purpose of using crutches is to take some weight off one or both lower limbs resulting in more weight going through the arms.

To ensure that the crutches are adequately fitted,

  • The handles must be at the height of your hip
  • The elbows should be slightly bent when using the hand grips
  • Ensure that the top parts are not irritating your arm pits, if so shorten the crutch slightly

Beware of items on the ground that may cause a fall. Remember that the crutches are wider than your normal walking pattern so give yourself space. If leaving your home, bring a small backpack or shoulder bag, as it is difficult to carry anything in your arms. Often patients wrap the handles with felt or cotton as it may be less abrasive on the skin.  Using a sports grip can also provide this. Ensure that whatever material is used is applied securely.

Technique

It is important to clarify if it is okay to place weight on the injured limb or not. Your doctor or therapist may suggest “Non-Weight Bearing” or “Partial Weight Bearing” or give you a percentage of how much weight to allow you to put through the injured leg while walking. This influences your technique when using the crutches.

Standing Up

  • Lean forward to the edge of the chair
  • Hold both crutches with the hand on the uninjured side
  • Hold on to the armrest or other support with the other hand
  • Push off with the good foot and both arms to a standing position
  • Take a crutch with each hand

Walking

  • The shoulders should be positioned slightly forward
  • Keep your head up
  • Ensure that you support your weight with your hands and not under your arms

Non-Weight Bearing

  • Move the crutches forward first
  • Let the crutches take the weight as you slowly sway forward landing your good foot in front of the crutches
  • Maintain the injured leg off the ground

Partial or Percentage Weight Bearing

  • Move the crutches forward with the injured limb
  • The amount of weight allowed on the injured limb is determined by your doctor/therapist
  • Let the crutches and injured limb take the weight as you slowly sway forward landing your good foot in front of you

Stairs

  • Use the handrail where possible, using this instead of a crutch on one side. Hold both crutches in one hand instead
  • Follow the technique as you would for walking
  • One step as a time
  • When going up lead with the good foot
  • When going down lead with the injured foot and hop from stair to stair with the good foot