It is very important to use caution when using crutches, canes, and walkers. When using one of these walking aids it is essential that you follow safety tips such as proper positioning and movement, knowing the importance of clear paths, and how to maneuver your way on the stairs.
Proper positioning and movement
Crutches – Crutches need to be used in a certain manner. The first general rule of thumb for using crutches is to make sure they fit your body and that you have proper instruction on how to use crutches. The top of your crutches should reach around an inch below your armpits while you stand up straight. The “handgrips of the crutches should be even with the top of your hip line. Your elbows should bend a bit when you use the handgrips. Hold the top of the crutches tightly to your sides, and use your hands to absorb the weight.” (2)
Canes – “The top of your cane should reach to the crease in your wrist when you stand up straight. Your elbow should bend a bit when you hold your cane. Hold the cane in the hand opposite the side that needs support.” (2)
Walker – A walker that has four prongs on the bottom is the best one to have as it gives the most stability. When using a walker, use some of your weight from your upper body to take off the stress from your lower body as you walk. As always, take your time when walking with a walker.
Importance of clear paths
It is extremely important to make sure your path is clear before maneuvering yourself around. Always watch out for loose items on the floor such as cords, toys, rugs, and any items which could cause you to fall or trip. Make sure that items in your household are easily accessible so that you do not injure yourself when trying to find your way around the house.
In any situation it is much better to use the elevator, but if the only option you have are stairs, you need to proceed with caution. First and foremost – use a handrail! If you are using a cane or crutches, you need to hold them in one hand and with the other hand, hold on to the handrail. Bring one leg up at a time, stepping with your better leg. Then bring the crutches or cane up to the step and repeat. If there is no handrail, use both crutches or cane and lead with your better leg. On the way down the stairs, come down each stair leading with your better foot one step at a time. Hold onto the handrail at all times to prevent further injury.
In both of the scenarios above, you should be extremely careful when going up and down the stairs, it is better to have someone help you.
1. “How to Use Crutches – Tips for Using Crutches Safely” http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/surgeryrehab/a/crutches_use.htm
2. “How to Use Crutches, Canes, and Walkers” http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00181
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