When a person's mobility is impaired, their ability to participate in activities is often limited. As a result, it is not uncommon for these individuals to find themselves confined to their homes. Walking aids can help those in need regain some mobility by performing the following functions:
- Decrease or eliminate the weight on an injured, fragile or weak leg
- Compensate for a lack of balance
- Improve walking endurance
Regardless of the aid you choose, it should be properly fitted and you should employ the correct walking technique, as this will ensure safe, comfortable and effective use, while also reducing the risk of falls and injuries.
Adjusting crutch height
To set the proper crutch height, follow the steps below:
- Stand tall wearing your everyday footwear.
- Place the crutches on the ground 15 cm from the feet.
- To set the proper height, make sure that there is a 2-3 finger width between the crutch and the underarm.
- To adjust the height of the handgrips, stand straight with the arms alongside the body, shoulders relaxed. The wrists should be at the level of the handgrips.
Walking with crutches
When walking with crutches, take your time and rest your weight on the handgrips, not the top of the crutches. Putting pressure on the top of the crutches with the underarms can compress nerves and blood vessels in the arms, causing tingling and numbness in the hands. Use the technique below to get around:
- Keep the crutches in place by squeezing them between the rib cage and the upper arms.
- Standing on the unaffected leg, lift both crutches at the same time and place them one step's length in front of you.
- Move the injured leg forward between the crutches, and rest the foot on the ground without putting more weight on it than what is recommended by your healthcare provider.
- Putting your weight on the handgrips, hop forward with your unaffected leg.
- Repeat the previous steps.
Going up and coming down stairs
The safest way to go up or down stairs is to use the railing and a crutch (or both crutches under the same arm).
To go up stairs:
- Hold the handrail and hop onto the first step with the unaffected leg.
- Place the injured foot and the crutch onto the same step.
- Repeat until you have reached the top of the stairs.
To come down stairs:
- Hold the handrail with one hand and a crutch with the other.
- Place the crutch and the injured foot on the step (if allowed by the healthcare provider).
- Put your weight onto the handgrip and handrail.
- Slowly lower your unaffected leg onto the same step.
- Repeat until you have reached the bottom of the stairs.