If you've ever injured your foot or ankle, you may have faced the daunting challenge of getting around monopedally. It's not easy. Bipeds have a definite advantage in stability and mobility. There are all sorts of things on the ground indoors and out, that you do not notice when you can just step around them. and the hazards of everyday travel are multiplied. Here are some tips for surviving your healing process

Fitting/Adjusting the Crutches to your Height

The top of your crutches should reach to 1-1 1/2 inches below your armpits while you stand up straight. The handgrips of the crutches should be even with the top of your hip. Your elbows should bend a bit when you use the handgrips, but not a lot. Hold the top of the crutches tightly to your sides, and use your hands to absorb the weight. Don’t let the tops of the crutches press into your armpits--pressure there can damage the nerves that go down into your arm and hands. The tops of the crutches will wear against your inner arm and on your sides a bit--a tea towel over the pads may help.

Basic Movement

Normal (no weight)

This method is good if you need to not use one leg at all, and is the most common one used with crutches.

  1. Start on your good foot with the crutches close to your body under each arm. Your hands should be on the handgrips, with thumbs inside and your other fingers wrapped around.
  2. Put the crutch tips out in front of you a comfortable stepping distance.
  3. Step normally with your good foot, carrying your weight with your arms and the crutches, to in front of the crutches.
  4. You've taken a step! Now take another.

Tips and Warnings:

  • Pay attention to the surface you are walking on. If it's uneven, icy, covered in wet leaves, or broken up in some way, you need to choose carefully where you place your crutches.
  • Your crutches will work just fine in puddles, on wet concrete, etc. However, if you come indoors and your crutch tips are wet, dry them off before you proceed to avoid slipping.


Going Up

  1. Push down hard on the crutches with your arms. This lifts the body upward.
  2. Step up first with your strong leg to the first step.
  3. Bring up your weak leg and crutches to the same step as the strong leg. Crutches and both legs should now be on the same step.
  4. Repeat sequence from Step 1 again.

Going Down Stairs

    No Handrail
  1. Put the crutches securely on the first step down, while your good foot is on the top step.
  2. Balancing on the crutches, step down with your good foot. Crutches and both legs should be on the same step
  3. Repeat.

If the steps seem particularly intimidating, have someone stand below you and help/be there to catch you, or go down sitting and scooting down one step at a time.

    With a handrail
  1. Put both crutches under your arm nearest the uninjured foot or hand one of them to a friend.
  2. Holding and facing the rail, with your uninjured foot towards the bottom of the stairs, put the crutches a step down and hop to follow with your good foot. Put weight on the rail as much as you can. Use the crutches for balance if necessary, but otherwise keep them out of the way.
  3. When you get to the bottom, put your crutches back under both arms normally and proceed.
Sources: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/fact/thr_report.cfm?Thread_ID=164&topcategory=About%20Orthopaedics http://physicaltherapy.about.com/library/howto/htcrutchwalking.htm Todd, Brian and personal experience

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