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Learn How to Walk Safely with Forearm Crutches

adjusting height forearmcrutches
Samyak Lalit
Samyak Lalit | October 22, 2017 (Last update: November 12, 2021)

Samyak Lalit is an author and disability rights activist. He is a polio survivor and the founder of projects like Kavita Kosh, Gadya Kosh, TechWelkin, WeCapable, Dashamlav and Viklangta Dot Com. Website: www.lalitkumar.in

Lately we published an article about forearm verses underarm crutches. As we mentioned in that article, different people need different types of crutches. Some people find it easier to walk with underarm crutches while some other prefer forearm crutches (aka elbow crutches).

I have been using underarm crutches for many decades and I have tried forearm crutches as well. In my experience, using forearm crutches is much trickier — especially for people who have less balance in their bodies. Polio survivors often struggle with body balance — so they mostly use underarm crutches. Most of the people who need to temporarily use crutches (e.g. in case of accidental disabilities) prefer forearm versions of crutches. In this article we will share some tips on how to safely walks with forearm crutches.

1. Get the Suitable Crutches

First of all, you must ensure that you have got a pair of good quality forearm crutches. You need to be confident while using forearm crutches — so go to the store and get the one you feel most comfortable with. The store people can help you in selecting the right type of forearm crutch for your condition.

2. Adjust the Height of Forearm Crutches

Now you should adjust the height of your crutches according to your needs.

  1. Wear the shoes that you’re planning to use normally.
  2. Stand as upright as comfortably possible.
  3. Fit the crutch in your arm and put it on ground.
  4. Now adjust the height of the forearm crutch so that the handgrip comes at the level of your hip. Your forearm should be almost fully flexed while holding the crutch.
  5. While adjusting the forearm crutch height, make sure you do not set the height too long. If the crutch would be too long, your posture might be affected and there would also be the risk of slipping.

adjusting height forearmcrutches

3. Adjust Cuffs

Some forearm crutches come with adjustable cuffs. You can change the height between handgrip and  cuff by adjusting the cuff. If you have got such a forearm crutch, you should keep the cuff a couple of inches below your elbow.

parts of forearm crutch

4. Take a Step Forward!

  1. Stand up. Fit the crutches in both arms.
  2. Put both the crutches one step forward at equal distance from your body. Don’t put the crutches too far away from your body. To begin with, taking steps of 12 inches should be good.
  3. Put your uninjured foot forward.
  4. Press down on crutches and swing your body forward while taking your weight on forearms and crutches. As you swing, make sure that your injured foot is raised above the ground. Otherwise it may hit something in your way.
  5. Maintain body balance at all the time. If maintaining balance is difficult or you don’t feel confident, reduce the distance of the next step. Balancing your body is the most important thing you need to learn while walking with forearm crutches.

The following video shows you how to walk with forearm crutches. It also shows how to use forearm crutches while climbing up and down the stairs.

Walking with forearm crutches requires a bit of practice. Every person finds her way with hit and trial method. So, go ahead with the above mentioned tips and adjust them according to your needs. You might also get additional tips on this issue from this Rutger forum.

As usual, if you have some more advice or tips to share on the topic of walking with forearm crutches, please do share with us in the comments section. Here, sharing is indeed caring. Your advice may turn out to be of massive help in someone’s life. We hope you found this article useful. Thank you for using WeCapable.

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4 responses to “Learn How to Walk Safely with Forearm Crutches”

  1. Avatar sally-julia committee says:

    what if I don’t have a specific injury but I have to use crutches due to general muscle weakness?

    • Lalit Kumar Lalit Kumar says:

      Hi! I am a polio survivor. In my experience, if you have muscular weakness, it is more difficult to walk with crutches. In case of specific injury only a particular set of muscles gets affected. And other unaffected muscles help in efforts of walking. But in general muscular weakness, all or most of the muscles get affected. Balancing would be trickier. So, be very careful. Consult your physio and select the most appropriate crutches for yourself.

  2. Avatar Franklyn Brooks says:

    This is very informative and is easy to understand the steps on how to walk with forearm crutches. Thank you for sharing this information.

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