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Crutch Walking

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A trained instructor will fit your child for crutches and teach him how to use them. A nurse or physical therapist will observe your child’s crutch walking skills before he is discharged.

Measurement of Crutches

  • The top of the crutches should be 2-3 fingers depth from the armpit (make sure the shoulders are relaxed).
  • When the arm is hanging straight down, the hand piece should be where the wrist bends.
  • 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. Your child should support his weight with his hands on the hand rests.
  • 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 (Non-Weight Bearing)

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

Walking (Touch-Down Weight Bearing)

  • Put the crutches forward about one step's length.
  • Bring the injured leg forward (your foot should be level with the crutch tips).
  • Place minimal weight on the toes only of the injured leg. Put your weight on your hands by pushing down on the handgrips, squeezing the top of the crutches between the chest and the arms.
  • Take a step with the healthy foot.
  • Take steps of equal length.

Walking (Weight Bearing As Tolerated)

  • Put the crutches forward about one step’s length.
  • Bring the injured leg forward; foot should be level with the crutch tips.
  • Place as much weight on the injured leg as you can tolerate. Put weight on the hands by pushing down on the handgrips, squeezing the top of the crutches between the chest and arm.
  • Take a step with the healthy leg.
  • Take steps of equal length.

Sit to Stand

  • Make sure to keep the crutches within reach when you sit.
  • Hold the hand grips of both crutches in one hand. Use the crutches with one hand and the other hand on a stable surface. If necessary, have someone guard at the hips for support.
  • Stretch the injured leg out straight.
  • Push on the stable surface, crutches and the healthy leg to stand up.
  • Use the proper weight bearing precautions on the injured leg.
  • Once you are standing, position the crutches under each arm 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 healthy 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 healthy leg.
  • Remove the crutches from under the arms and place in one hand. Reach for the chair with the other hand.
  • Stretch the injured leg out in front.
  • Sit down slowly.

Stairs

  • If you are not alone and the stair railing is stable, use one crutch and have someone carry your other crutch. Use two crutches if there is no stable stair rail. The crutch is used on the opposite side of the 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.

Going 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 healthy leg. If you are not allowed to place weight on the injured leg, hop up to the step with the healthy leg.
  • Bring the injured leg and the crutches up beside the healthy leg.
  • REMEMBER the healthy leg goes up first and the crutches move with the injured leg.

Going Down Stairs

  • Walk to the edge of the stairs using the crutches.
  • Place the injured leg and the crutch down on the step below; support your weight by leaning on the crutch and the stair rail. (If you are alone, keep both crutches in one hand.)
  • Bring the healthy leg down.
  • REMEMBER the injured leg goes down first and the crutches move with the injured leg.
  • Use the same rules when going up and down curbs or doorsteps.

Precautions

  • For the first few days, a strong belt may be worn to allow someone to assist you.
  • Avoid walking on slick or wet surfaces. Be careful in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Remove throw rugs; they are unsafe.
  • Never hop around holding on to furniture; it may slide or fall.
  • Keep the crutches near you so they are always within reach.
  • Wear low-heeled shoes that will not slip. Sneakers are a good choice.
  • Be careful of ramps or slopes, as it is a little harder to walk with crutches if the surface is not flat.
  • If you fall, throw the crutches out to the side and use your arms to break the fall. Get into a sitting position. Back up to a stool or low chair. Put hands backwards on to the chair. Bend the healthy leg up. Pull with hands and push with the healthy leg to get up onto the chair. If you are not allowed to put weight on the injured leg, hop up with the healthy 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 injured leg up on a stool when sitting.
  • Carry schoolbooks in a backpack to leave both hands available for crutch use.
  • Never lean or hang on the underarm pieces.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 04/2014

(757) 668-7000