TOCA Tip: How to Use Your Crutches!
When you are first learning to use your walking aid, you may wish to have a friend or family member nearby to help steady you and give you support. In the beginning, everything you do may seem more difficult. With just a few tips and a little practice, though, most people are able to quickly gain confidence and learn how to use a walking aid safely.
Make Your Home Safer
Making some simple safety modifications to your home can help prevent slips and falls when using your walking aid:
*Remove throw rugs, electrical cords, food spills, and anything else that may cause you to fall.
*Arrange furniture so that you have a clear pathway between rooms.
*Keep stairs clear of packages, boxes, or clutter.
*Walk only in well-lit rooms and install a nightlight along the route between your bedroom and the bathroom.
*In the bathroom, use nonslip bath mats, grab bars, a raised toilet seat, and a shower tub seat.
*Simplify your household to keep the items you need within easy reach and everything else out of the way.
*Carry things hands-free by using a backpack, fanny pack, or an apron with pockets.
If you are unable to bear any weight on your leg or foot, you may have to use crutches.
If your injury or surgery requires you to get around without putting any weight on your leg or foot, you may have to use crutches.
*When standing up straight, the top of your crutches should be about 1-2 inches below your armpits.
*The hand-grips of the crutches should be even with the top of your hip line.
*Your elbows should be slightly bent when you hold the hand-grips.
*To avoid damage to the nerves and blood vessels in your armpit, your weight should rest on your hands, not on the underarm supports.
*Lean forward slightly and put your crutches about one foot in front of you. Begin your step as if you were going to use the injured foot or leg but, instead, shift your weight to the crutches. Bring your body forward slowly between the crutches. Finish the step normally with your good leg. When your good leg is on the ground, move your crutches ahead in preparation for your next step. Always look forward, not down at your feet.
*To sit, back up to a sturdy chair. Put your injured foot in front of you and hold both crutches in one hand. Use the other hand to feel behind you for the seat of your chair. Slowly lower yourself into the chair. When you are seated, lean your crutches in a nearby spot. Be sure to lean them upside down—crutches tend to fall over when they are leaned on their tips.
*To stand up, inch yourself to the front of the chair. Hold both crutches in the hand on your uninjured side. Push yourself up and stand on your good leg.
*To walk up and down stairs with crutches, you need to be both strong and flexible. Facing the stairway, hold the handrail with one hand and tuck both crutches under your armpit on the other side. When you are going up, lead with your good foot, keeping your injured foot raised behind you. When you are going down, hold your injured foot up in front, and hop down each step on your good foot. Take it one step at a time. You may want someone to help you, at least at first. If you encounter a stairway with no handrails, use the crutches under both arms and hop up or down each step on your good leg, using more strength.
*If you feel unsteady, it may be easier to sit on each step and move up or down on your bottom. Start by sitting on the lowest step with your injured leg out in front. Hold both crutches flat against the stairs in your opposite hand. Scoot your bottom up to the next step, using your free hand and good leg for support. Face the same direction when you go down the steps in this manner.