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Crutch Walking

If ordered by the doctor, your child will be fitted for crutches and be taught how to use them by a trained health care professional.

Measurement of crutches:

  • The top of the crutches should be at least two finger widths deep from the armpit (make sure the shoulders are relaxed).
  • When the arm is hanging straight down, the hand piece should be at the level of the wrist.
  • Hold the top part of the crutch firmly between the chest and the inside of the upper arm. Do not allow the top of the crutch to push up into the armpit. It is possible to damage nerves and blood vessels with constant pressure. Support the weight with the hands on the hand rests. The hand rests should be padded.
  • When standing still, it will be safer to stand with the crutches slightly ahead and apart. Remember, do not let the top of the crutches push up into the armpit; stand straight.

Walking (nonweight bearing):

  • Put the crutches forward about one step's length.
  • Push down on the crutches with the hands, hold the "bad" leg up from the floor, and squeeze the top of the crutches between the chest and arm.
  • Swing the "good" leg forward. Be careful not to go too far.
  • Now step on the "good" leg.

Walking (partial-weight bearing):

  • Put the crutches forward about one step's length.
  • Put the "bad" leg forward, level with the crutch tips.
  • Take most of the weight by pushing down on the handgrips, squeezing the top of the crutches between the chest and arm.
  • Take a step with the "good" leg.
  • Make steps of equal length.

Sit to stand:

  • Make sure to keep the crutches nearby so they can be reached when needed.
  • Hold the hand grips of both crutches in one hand. Use the crutches with one hand and the side of the chair with the other hand. Make sure the chair is stable. If necessary, have someone stand behind you.
  • Stretch the "bad" leg out straight.
  • Push on chair, crutches, and the "good" leg; stand up.
  • Keep the weight off the "bad" leg. Balance. Place the crutches in place for walking.

Stand to sit:

  • Walk straight up to the chair.
  • When a step away from the chair, turn until your back is toward the chair using the "good" leg and the crutches. (Move the crutches, then step, crutches, step...a little at a time.) Never pivot.
  • Move backwards until the chair touches the back of the "good" leg.
  • Remove the crutches from under the arms.
  • Hold both crutches in one hand and reach for the chair with the other hand.
  • Stretch the "bad" leg out in front.
  • Sit down slowly.

Stairs:

  • Use one crutch and the stair rail if present (only if the railing is stable and there is someone to carry the other crutch). Use two crutches if there is no stair rail.
  • It does not matter which side the stair rail is on.
  • If both crutches can be held in one hand safely, you can use both crutches on one side and the railing on the other.

Up stairs:

  • Walk close to the first stair and hold onto the stair rail.
  • Hold onto the rail with one hand and the crutch with the other hand.
  • Push down on the stair rail and the crutch and step up with the "good" leg.
  • If not allowed to place weight on the "bad" leg, hop up with the "good" leg.
  • Bring the "bad" leg and the crutches up beside the "good" leg.
  • Remember, the "good" leg goes up first and the crutches move with the "bad" leg.

Down stairs:

  • Walk to the edge of the stairs in the same way.
  • Place the "bad" leg and the crutches down on the step below; support weight by leaning on the crutches and the stair rail.
  • Bring the "good" leg down.
  • Remember the "bad" leg goes down first and the crutches move with the "bad" leg.
  • Use the same rules when going up and down curbs or doorsteps.

Precautions:

  • Take care on slick or wet surfaces (for example, the kitchen and bathroom).
  • Be careful of throw rugs; they should be taken up.
  • Never hop around holding on to furniture; it may slide or fall.
  • Keep the crutches near you so they are always in reach.
  • Wear low-heeled shoes that will not slip off (for example, sneakers).
  • For the first few days, a strong belt may be worn to allow someone to assist you.
  • Be careful of ramps or slopes, as it is a little harder to walk.
  • If falling, throw the crutches out to the side and use your arms to break your fall. To get up, get into a sitting position. Back up to a stool or low chair. Put your hands backwards on to the chair. Bend the "good" leg up. Pull with your hands and push with the "good" leg to get up onto the chair.
  • If not allowed to take weight on the "bad" leg, hop up with the "good" leg.
  • Do not remove any parts from your crutches, including the rubber tips.

Helpful hints:

  • A bedside toilet may be used.
  • Ask teachers in school to let your child out of class a little early to avoid crowds on the stairs.
  • Keep the "bad" leg up on a stool when sitting.
  • Carry schoolbooks in a backpack to leave both hands free.
  • Avoid leaning on the underarm pieces.

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