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Forearm Crutches, Underarm Crutch, Heavy Duty Crutches & Crutches for Kids

A crutches are a mobility aid device that helps transfer weight from the legs to the upper body of the person using them. They are often used by people who cannot use their legs to support their weight, for example: short-term injuries to lifelong disabilities.

Choosing the Right Crutch

There are many different types of crutches and depending on your injury will depend on the type you will need.  Crutches can help an individual when they are unable to walk unaided.  This could be because of a disease, injury, or simply a weakness.  Whatever your reason for needing a crutch, your doctor will discuss with you which type will be most beneficial for your situation.

Some people who suffer with paralysis use crutches as they can help them stand more upright opposed to being confined to a wheelchair.  Maintaining an upright posture helps prevent calcium depletion and enhances circulation among other things.  However a user must still have sufficient strength, balance, and coordination in order to use crutches safely and  effectively.

When using crutches, the body’s weight is distributed evenly throughout the whole upper body, so if yours is poor, you may be more suited to knee scooter/walker styles instead of the traditional forearm or underarm designs.  Even those with good upper body strength, coordination, and balance may find it difficult using crutches to begin with.  Most people find underarm crutches the easiest to use but forearm crutches allow much greater control.

For crutches to be effective they need to be properly fitted to each individual.  As a general guide, the user should be able to stand straight with their elbow bent to a 15-30 degree angle with the hand resting on the crutch handle.  Ensuring you have the right tip and handles is also an important part of getting the right crutch.  You want the tip to be slip-resistant.  This will help provide extra support and balance, as will a larger tip.  Some tips are spring-assisted also which allows the crutch to adapt to that of the individual and move with them.   Some crutch handles offer extra padding to relieve some of the strain on the wrists and hands.

Types of crutches

Crutches come in various shapes and sizes to accommodate different people and different injuries.  Making sure you have the right crutch for your situation will make life a lot easier for you when using them.  If in any doubts as to what you should be using, please seek medical advice.  The most common type of crutches include the following:

  • Forearm crutch:  This is sometimes referred to as the Lofstand crutch and is a type of arm crutch that’s more suited to those who will need crutches long term or are very active.  These feature cuffs around the top of the them that fit around the user’s arm and is generally more comfortable to use than an underarm crutch.   Patients who have a thigh or hip injury often use these crutches as they can be easily adjusted to accommodate different heights and weights.
  • Underarm crutch:  Other wise known as the axillary crutch, this is the most common crutch to use and also the easiest to maneuver.  The ribcage pad goes under the user’s armpit, while they grip the pad located below.  A crutch needs to be measured up against the user to ensure it’s a good fit.  To do this, make sure the crutch top extends from around 6 inches or so from the armpit to the floor, about 6 to 8 inches from the user’s foot.  Hands should be able to rest at a level that’s around a 30 degree angle.
  • Platform crutch:  Also known as the triceps crutch, this type of crutch is more suited to anyone who has problems with cerebral palsy, arthritis, or poor hand strength and grip.  The hand grips are easily adjusted to suit the user’s disability while their arm is strapped into place upon a horizontal platform.  To ensure a proper fit, the crutch should reach to about 2 inches below the armpit with the lower cuff around ½ an inch to 1 ½ inches below the back of the elbow.
  • Leg support crutches/knee scooters/walkers:  Leg support crutches are designed to keep the affected leg strapped up and attached to a support frame that’s normally on wheels for help with mobility.  They’re often used when there’s been an injury below the knee or for disabilities that affect just one leg.  Leg support crutches work by transferring the weight from the ground to a person’s knee or thigh, leaving the affected leg clear of the ground.
  • Strutter crutch:  This is simply another type of underarm crutch.  It has larger crutch tips that always stay flat on the floor, improving weight distribution and balance.