How To Use Crutches Properly - The Nebraska Medical Center

Uploaded by NebraskaMedCenter on 07.03.2011

Hi, my name is Lisa and I’m a physical therapist here at The Nebraska Medical Center. I’m
here today to show you some basic tips for how to use crutches correctly. If you have
not used crutches before, the first thing that you want to remember is they need to
be fit properly for you. So I’m going to go through a couple of basics for that.
The first thing you can check on your crutches to see if there’s a tool that will help
you decide your height and where they should be. This is kind of a reference only. So you
want to get the hole set to where your height is as a general reference point. And then
you’re going to turn the crutches right-side up and when you stand nice and tall with the
crutches at your side, when you hang your arms at side, the wrist part should line up
about with your wrist so that your pad and your wrist are even. And if you put your hands
on the pad, your elbow has a slight bend in it. The other thing to remember is that you
should have a little bit of a gap between your armpit and the top of the crutch so that
there’s some space there. The first thing you want to remember if you’re using crutches
is not to lean your armpits onto the top of the pads, because you can cause nerve damage
that will affect the sensation and the strength in your arms so that when you put your hands
on the crutches, you do have a slight bend in your elbow and a slight gap underneath
your armpits of about two finger-widths.
You’re going to put your affected extremity or leg forward, both crutches will be on the
side of the injured leg. You’re going to push up from the hand grip with one hand and
the chair or the bed with the opposite hand. You’re going to lean forward, push up with
both arms. Once you have your balance, you’ll bring one crutch around to the opposite side
and place both crutches beneath your armpits. And you can see that I am using the surface
behind me (the chair) a little bit, just to get some balance when I’m transferring one
crutch from one side to the other.
When you go from a standing position to a seated position, whether that be a chair or
a bed behind you, you want to back all the way up to the surface with your crutches until
you feel the chair or the bed behind your unaffected leg. Then you’re going to bring
the crutch around from your unaffected side to your injured side, bring the crutches out
from underneath your armpits, reach down for the hand grips. With the opposite hands, you’re
going to reach down for the chair or the bed. If you have a chair rest, it will be easier
to reach for that. You kick the affected foot forward and you have a seat. Nice and controlled.
What you don’t want to do is just look back to see if it’s there, bring your crutches
forward and have a seat like this.
Once your crutches are fit correctly and you’re standing up, you’re going to bring one crutch
around to the other side and stand up tall. Your doctor will let you know how much weight
you can put through your leg. For this video, I’m demonstrating not putting any weight
through my injured leg. You’re going to bring your crutches forward first, swing the
affected or injured leg forward first, and then take a small step with your good leg.
Crutches forward. Step. As you get better, you can start to take longer steps.
To ascend and descend stairs, take steps until you’re as close to the staircase as you
can be. If you have a railing, you want to use the railing if it’s available. The first
thing you’re going to do is take one of the crutches out from the side that you’re
using the railing on. Place both crutches underneath the opposite side, reach for the
hand railing, and you step up with your good leg. So you’re going to put weight through
both hands, step up with your left foot. And then you bring your crutches up. And my injured
leg is hanging behind me. You’re going to push through your hands and step up again.
Once you’re at the top of the staircase, bring one crutch around again and continue
To descend the stairs, you’re going to bring your crutches around to the opposite side
as the railing that you’re using and take a hold of the hand rail with the other hand.
To go down, you go down with your crutches first, then your injured leg comes forward
and you put the weight through your hands to step with your left foot, one step at a
time. Always remember to follow your doctor’s orders, as far as how much weight you can
put through your injured leg. But a few key things to remember when using crutches will
help you heal and get home safely: remember not to lean your arm pits onto the top of
the crutches, remember to always stand tall, and you’re going to move your crutches forward
before you step with your uninjured side.