How to fit and use Crutches, Canes, and Walkers
Welcome to another Medical Minute segment. Here, Haeleigh Little, a certified orthotic fitter from Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group reviews how to properly fit and use crutches, canes, and walkers.
WHAT IS THE #1 THING PATIENTS STRUGGLE WITH WHEN FITTING WALKING ASSISTANCE DEVICES?
The number one thing patients struggle with is getting the height correct. The height for all of these devices will depend on body type. Most crutches will have markers that will allow for adjustments, but each body is different. Fit can change depending on each individual’s body length, leg length, and arm length.
WHAT HAPPENS IF ANY PIECE OF EQUIPMENT IS NOT FITTED PROPERLY?
If a piece of equipment is not fitted properly, then the ultimate concern is the risk of injury. If the crutch or cane is not properly fitted to a patient’s particular height, you risk injury to the shoulders, elbows, and wrists because you are now relying on those parts of the body to walk.
HOW TO FIT CRUTCHES
Typically, you will want your crutches to sit approximately two or three finger widths below the armpit. If the crutches are too short, you can risk putting excessive pressure on internal structures and muscles within the armpit. Next, you will want to ensure the crutch allows for a slight bend in the elbow, that way in the case of a fall, you do not hyperextend your arm, potentially causing injury.
HOW TO FIT CANES AND WALKERS
When fitting a cane, hold your arm down at your side, the top of the cane should hit at your wrist. You can do the same for measuring walkers, however you will want it to hit a bit above your wrist to compensate for slight bend your elbows as you walk with the device.
ANY OTHER TIPS?
The biggest tip we recommend for all patients to follow is: go slow, listen to your body, and be aware of your surroundings when using any form of walking assistance equipment.
HOW CAN SOMEONE SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT?
To schedule an appointment, please call the office at 719-632-7669. Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group does require a prescription for walking assistance devices so you will want to make sure you have talked to either your orthopedic physician or family physician prior to scheduling your appointment.
With these tips, you can safely fit crutches, canes, and walkers, and be on the path toward healing.