How to use crutches
If someone hasn’t used them before, learning how to walk with crutches can seem difficult to start with, and definitely takes some time getting used to!
Like most things though, practice makes perfect. The more someone uses their crutches, the more comfortable they’ll feel. If a family member is using crutches for the first time, give them plenty of encouragement and support where you can. It’s a good idea for them to use crutches to get around the house first, to get used to the weight and feel of them, before progressing to short walks outside.
How they walk with crutches* will depend on whether they can put weight through the injured leg (weight-bearing) or not (non weight-bearing). If you need advice on this, be sure to talk to a healthcare professional, such as your family member’s GP or a physiotherapist.
The starting position is the same. Hold a crutch in each hand, and place the foot of each on the ground. Make sure they’re stable. The crutches should be set equally apart at shoulder width, not pointing inwards or crossing over.
If they’re not allowed to bear any weight on the affected leg, move the crutches forward – not too far ahead that the person using them is stretching – and plant them securely on the floor. Then, making sure their injured leg, the non weight-bearing one, doesn’t touch the floor, take a step forward with their healthy leg. They should be aiming to plant their weight-bearing foot level with the crutches.
Repeat the process again until the walk is complete.
If the person using the crutches is able to put full or partial weight on the injured leg, the process is slightly different. The first step is with the injured leg. When complete, they should put the weight through their arms – not pushing through on the injured leg – to move forward and take a second step with their healthy leg.
Repeat this to keep moving forward.
If you need further advice on using crutches, or choosing the right type for a family member, you can get in touch with our team of Occupational Therapists. It’s a free service - just contact them online here.
You can view our full range of crutches here.