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Crutches: How to Use

What are crutches?

Crutches are supports that help your child walk when his leg or foot is injured.

How should your child use crutches?

Here are the instructions your child can follow to use crutches.

  • Walking
    • Hold the grips of the crutches. Bring the crutches forward evenly, keeping the injured leg off the ground. Lean forward, so the grips take the weight of the body. Swing the good leg forward, placing the foot just in front of the crutches. Repeat.
    • Your child should not rest his armpits on the crutches. The pressure of your child’s weight on his underarms can cause damage to nerves that pass through the armpits.
    • In some cases your child’s healthcare provider may allow your child to put some weight on his injured leg while using the crutches. Follow your provider’s instructions.
  • Getting up from a chair or bed

    Using the hand on the side of the injured leg, hold both crutches together by the grips. Use the other hand to push up from the chair or bed. Stand on the good leg. Your child should first stand with good balance and bring the crutches into position on each side before starting to walk.

  • Sitting down

    Using the hand on the side of the injured leg, hold both crutches together by the grips. Hold onto the chair or bed with the other hand and lower the body slowly. Unless your child is allowed to put some weight on the injured leg, he should keep the injured leg off the ground and keep the weight of the body on the good leg.

  • Stairs
    • Going up. Get close to the stairs. With weight on the grips of the crutches, step up with the good leg. Then bring the crutches and the injured leg up to the same step. Repeat for each step.
    • Going down. First bring the crutches and the injured leg down to the lower step. Then step down with the good leg. Repeat for each step. If there is a handrail, put both crutches under the arm opposite the rail and use the rail for support.
    • Remember: "Up with the good, down with the bad."
  • Going through doorways

    When going through a doorway, your child should be sure there is enough room to allow his feet and crutches to clear the doorframe and door. Ask someone to hold the door open if possible. If your child is by himself, he can block it from swinging closed with his shoulder or a crutch tip.

How can I take care of my child while he is using crutches?

  • Help your child avoid water and ice, including wet floors. Don't use area rugs or leave electric cords around on the floor because your child might trip over them. Arrange furniture so your child has room to walk around without bumping into it.
  • Sometimes crutches rub against the skin between the arms and chest. Using body lotion or talcum powder in these areas can help prevent skin chafing.
  • If your child’s hands get sore or tired, you may want to put extra padding on the crutch grips or get padded bicycle gloves for your child.
  • Make sure your child doesn’t lean on the crutches and put pressure on his armpits. If your child feels pressure on his armpits even when using the crutches correctly, the crutches are too long and need to be shortened.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-10-27
Last reviewed: 2014-10-27
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
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