What Is the Recommended Way to Use Crutches?


Quick Answer

When using crutches, a patient should begin by leaning forward and placing the tips about 12 inches in front of his feet, according to OrthoInfo. He then moves the weaker leg so the center of the foot is even with the tips, and he places his weight on the crutches while moving the stronger leg so the feet are even.

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Full Answer

For proper positioning, the user should adjust the crutches so their tops are 1 to 2 inches below the armpit and the handgrips are even with the hip line, warns OrthoInfo. When using crutches, it is essential that the weight rests on the hands, with the elbows slightly bent to prevent damage to the blood vessels and nerves in the armpit.

Getting used to walking with crutches takes some practice, so the patient should ask an assistant to help him maintain his balance initially, advises OrthoInfo. He should lead with the good leg when going up stairs and lead with the weaker one when going down stairs. Patients who do not feel steady using crutches on stairways should sit on the stairs with the injured leg extended and the crutches flat against the stairs in the opposite hand. They then can lift themselves to the next step using the stronger leg and free hand. They can also move down the stairs safely using a similar scooting fashion.

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