Kids Health Info

Crutches

  • Using crutches safely

    Correct fit

    • If your child has to use crutches, make sure they stand up straight and are measured from the armpit to the floor. Take 5cm off this and you have the correct crutch length (Figure 1). For example, if the height from your armpit to the floor is 90cm, the crutch should be 85cm high.
    • Adjust the handgrip height so the elbow bends slightly when your child is standing relaxed.

    Safety

    • Ensure wing nuts are tight.
    • Ensure crutch tips (rubber stoppers at the bottom of the crutches) are securely attached and not worn.

    Your child is now ready to walk on their crutches as they have been shown. Your physiotherapist or doctor will have told you and your child how much weight they can put on the sore leg.

      Crutches figure 1 

      Please note - not all young children will be able to use crutches. If your child is not coordinated enough to use crutches, or if you have any doubts, please ensure your child DOES NOT use crutches. Using crutches may cause your child to fall. 

      Walking with crutches

      The top of each crutch should be two to three finger widths, or 5cm, below your armpit (Figure 2). You should lean on your hands, not your armpits. Your elbows should be slightly bent.

      Crutches figure 2

        • Make sure your are standing up straight and balanced before trying to walk on your crutches. Your feet should be slightly apart. Your crutches need to be out to the side (10-15cm) and slightly in front of your feet.
        • You should grip the crutches firmly to your side by pressing your upper arms against your trunk.
        • Move both crutches out in front of your body. Make sure the crutches are not placed too far in front of your body or too far apart from each other.
        • Balance your weight on your hands and push down onto the crutch handles.
        • Bring your good leg up to or just past the crutches. This will move you forward.
        • Do not lean your armpits on the crutches.
        • If you are not allowed to bear weight on your sore leg, keep it off the ground.
        • If you are able to take some weight, put your sore leg on the ground and take some weight through it and the rest through your hands.

        Sitting down or standing up with crutches

        • Hold the crutches in one hand, by the crutch handles (Figure 3a).
        • Place your sore leg forward.
        • Grip the seat with the other hand.
        • Lean forward, gently bend your good leg and lower yourself onto the seat, or gently straighten your good leg and push yourself up from the seat (Figure 3b).

          Crutches figure 3

        Going up stairs with crutches - non weight bearing

        • Walk right up to the step (Figure 4a).
        • Pushing through arms, lean forward to bring weight over crutches and then hop onto the first step with the unaffected foot (Figure 4b).
        • Straighten your body while bringing your crutches and sore leg up onto the step (Figure 4c).
        • continue this process carefully up the stairs.
        • Always position yourself close to the child to steady him/her if required. 
        • If unsafe, the child may sit on the step and go up on their bottom (Figure 5).
         Crutches figure 4  Crutches figure 5

        Going down stairs with crutches - non weight bearing

        • Walk right to edge of the step.
        • Place crutches carefully down to step below.
        • Move affected foot out in front of crutches and lean slightly forward in order to bring weight through crutches (Figure 6a).
        • Pushing firmly through crutches step down onto the unaffected leg (Figure 6b).
        • Continue slowly and carefully down the stairs continuing the sequence. 
        • Always position yourself close to the child to steady him/her if required.
        • If unsafe, the child may sit on the step and go down on their bottom.
          Crutches figure 6

        Key points to remember

        • Your weight should be on your hands, not on your armpits.
        • Ask your physiotherapist or doctor how much weight you can put on your sore leg.
        • Children should be encouraged to take things slowly and learn how to use crutches properly. It is easy to fall or lose your balance while using crutches.
        • If your child is having difficulty walking with crutches please seek a physiotherapy referral.

        More information

        • Contact your local emergency department.
        • Ask the practice nurse or your family doctor.
        • Call The Royal Children's Hospital Physiotherapy Department on Tel: (03) 9345 9300.

         

         

        Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Physiotherapy Department and Emergency Medicine. First published January 2005. Updated October 2016.

         


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      Disclaimer
      This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.