If you have an accident, a fall, suffer a stroke, or have a surgical procedure which limits the use of your legs, crutches or some other support device will be needed as you heal. Here are some useful tips on how to use crutches, walkers, and canes.
First Things First
The last thing you want to do is create another injury, so make some modifications to your living spaces to avoid obstructions or safety hazards.
Have family members set up some precautions like the following:
- Rearrange furniture so you have a clear path from room to room.
- Eliminate throw rugs, electrical cords or anything else that might cause you to trip and fall.
- Install night lights in dark areas, especially for bathroom trips.
- Be sure your bathroom has non-slip mats, grab bars, a shower seat, and a raised toilet seat.
There are some simple tips for using crutches, so don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Get some help when choosing your crutches to be sure they are the right height for you.
The hand grips should be even with your hips, and make sure they are an inch or two below your armpits.
Keep your weight on your hands and hand grips, not your armpits. When you walk, lean slightly forward with the crutch ahead of you. Push off on the side of your injured leg, and then complete each step with the healthy one.
Always look forward and not down.
Canes are useful for those with balance issues, pain or a weakness. There are some specific ways to use a cane safely.
- The top of the cane should reach the middle of your waist.
- Your elbow should be slightly bent when using your cane.
- Always hold the cane on the side that is not injured. If your right leg is in pain, hold the cane on your left.
- Place the cane about a pace ahead of you as you walk, and look ahead, not down.
Using A Walker
Walkers are usually needed after a hip replacement surgery. It should be at the height of a cane.
One with four legs will provide the most stability. The goal is to keep all or some of your weight off the lower body. Use your arms for support.
Your elbows should be slightly bent when holding the grips.
Stand up straight! As you walk, move the walker one step ahead holding on to the top of the walker. Move the injured leg toward the halfway point, not all the way to the front of the walker.
Never try to climb stairs or get on an escalator.
Always ask for professional help when selecting a walker, cane, or crutches.