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- How to Fit and Use Crutches
How to Fit and Use Crutches
Weight Bearing Restrictions
Your doctor may have given you weight bearing restrictions on your leg which tells you how much weight you can put through your leg.
Weight Bearing as Tolerated
If you are weight-bearing as tolerated, that means you can put as much weight through your leg as is comfortable. Putting weight through your legs should not significantly increase or cause you pain.
Partial Weight Bearing
If you are partial weight bearing then you can put some weight but not all through your leg. You should push through your hands on the crutches to keep the full weight off of your leg.
Toe Touch Weight Bearing
If you are toe touch or foot flat weight-bearing, then you may simply rest your foot on the floor. Imagine there is an egg or a cracker under your foot that you don't want to crush. It's important to know that toe touch weight bearing does not mean that only your toe can touch the ground. It is important to allow your entire foot to rest flat on the ground.
Non Weight Bearing
If you are non-weight-bearing then you can't put any weight through your foot. You should push through your hands on the crutches to keep the weight off of your foot. As you walk, you should be able to walk without your foot touching the ground.
No matter what your weight-bearing restrictions are, make sure that you never lean on the tops of your crutches. You can hurt a nerve causing numbness and tingling in your arm. Put all of your weight through your hands, not your armpits.
How to fit your crutches:
- Stand tall with your shoes on. Make sure your shoes have low heels and good support.
- Put the crutches under your arms. Relax your arms and let them hang down over the crutches. There should be a two inch space between your armpit and the top of the crutch with your hands hanging relaxed.
- The hand grips should be at the level of your wrist when holding the hand grips.
- Your elbows should be bent slightly to about thirty degrees.
To stand up, hold both crutches by the hand grips in one hand and push up with the other hand on the chair. Then put one crutch under each arm.
To sit down, place both crutches in one hand holding the hand grips together and reach for the chair with your other hand to lower yourself slowly.
Going Up Stairs
- To take a step, squeeze the crutches between your upper arms and ribs put the weight through your hands not your armpits.
- Move the crutches forward. Move your injured leg forward and put your foot even with the crutches. Put as much weight as you are allowed on the injured leg, taking the rest of the weight through your arms and hands.
- Step past with your stronger leg.
- In summary, move the crutches first, your injured leg next, and then your stronger leg.
Going Down Stairs
- To go upstairs with a handrail, place one crutch under one arm and use the handrail with the other arm for support.
- Step up with the stronger leg, then the injured leg, and lastly bring up the crutch. Always make sure the crutch tip is completely on the stair. If you do not have a handrail be very careful as you could lose your balance. Have someone help you or avoid the stairs until you are stronger.
- Place one crutch under each arm. Step up with the stronger leg then, then bring the injured leg and your crutches up together.
- To go down stairs with a handrail, place one crutch under one arm and use the handrail with the other arm.
- For support, lower the crutch down to the step below and move your injured leg down and then bring your stronger leg down. Always make sure the crutch tip is completely on the stair. If you do not have a handrail, be very careful as you can lose your balance. Have someone help you or avoid the stairs until you are stronger.
- Place one crutch under each arm. Step down with your crutches and your injured leg. Together then bring your stronger leg down.
If you do not feel steady on crutches, a walker is another option. The walker does offer more stability. If you need to go up one step with a walker you should do this backwards. Going down one step you should go forwards, leading with your walker and your injured leg. More than one step is not safe with a walker. Be sure to sit for a few minutes before standing while sitting. Review the process for the safe use of crutches. Once you are standing, be sure that you are stable before you start moving. If at any time you do not feel stable, you should stop and sit down on a safe surface.
In conclusion, be sure to check with your healthcare team to determine whether or not crutches are the safest choice for your situation. Be sure that your environment is also safe for the use of crutches. This means that your environment should be free of clutter. There should be no throw rugs or loose edges on carpeting and absolutely do not use crutches on wet surfaces. If you have any questions or you have any difficulty using crutches, please discuss these with your health care team.
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