In this section
Crutches can help your child recover more quickly from leg, foot or ankle injuries, by reducing the amount of weight placed on the injured leg. If your child needs to use crutches, encourage them to take things slowly at first and learn how to use their crutches properly. It can be easy for
children to fall or lose their balance while using crutches.
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 they do not use crutches. Your GP or physiotherapist can suggest alternatives. You can ask your GP for a referral to a physiotherapist.
To make sure the crutches fit your child correctly:
Adjust the handgrip height so the elbow bends slightly when your child is standing relaxed.
Make sure the crutches are safe to use by checking the wing nuts are tight and that the crutch tips (the 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. They should wear non-slip shoes (e.g. runners). Your physiotherapist, doctor or nurse will have told you and your child how much weight they can put on the sore leg.
Make sure your child is standing up straight and balanced before trying to use the crutches. Their feet should be slightly apart. The crutches need to be out to the side (about 10–15 cm) and slightly in front of their feet.
Your child should:
If they are not allowed to bear weight on their sore leg, make sure they keep it off the ground.
If they are able to take some weight, they can put their sore leg on the ground and place some weight on it. Their hands should take the rest of their weight.
If your child is having difficulty using crutches, a physiotherapist can ensure the crutches are sized correctly and will teach your child how best to use them.
If your child is not allowed to bear weight on their sore leg, they will need to follow these steps when using stairs.
Parents/carers should always position themselves close to the child to steady them if required.
If your child feels unsafe using crutches on stairs, they can sit on the step and go up or down on their bottom.
How old should a child be before they can use crutches?
It depends on how coordinated and physically capable the child is, but, generally, children need to be at least seven years old to safely use crutches.
How long will my child need to use crutches?
This depends on how serious your child's injury is and how quickly they recover. If in doubt, ask your GP, orthopaedic surgeon (bone doctor) or physiotherapist. Make sure you follow medical advice and take your child to all their follow-up appointments.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Physiotherapy and Emergency Medicine departments. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.
Reviewed July 2018.
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