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Crutches are most often used to assist with the recovery of short-term injuries when patients are unable to bear weight on one leg. Some people also prefer forearm crutches for long-term use in place of canes or walkers. The two types of crutches are underarm crutches (also known as auxiliary crutches), which are held under each arm pressed to the user’s side, and elbow or forearm crutches, which feature a cuff above the handle to prevent movement of the crutch.
The underarm crutch is typically used during recovery from knee or ankle injuries. The user holds the horizontal bar and allows the pad at the top to press into their sides, supporting the weight of their upper body. This type of crutch is easy to master and suitable for use on simple terrain, making it a good choice for short recovery times or small periods of use. When using underarm crutches, be careful not to allow the pads to dig into the armpit, as this does less to support the weight of the body and can lead to discomfit or injury.
The forearm crutch is a smaller style with a plastic brace above the handle to keep the crutch steady. Forearm crutches are encouraged for more active users, users who can already bear their own weight but require support, and users who expect to be reliant on crutches for a longer period of time. As this type of crutch relies on the user’s torso to support the weight of the body, it requires more core body strength than the underarm crutch. The advantage is in the lighter weight and greater maneuverability of the forearm style, which is usable even on unpredictable surfaces, up stairs and slopes and in small and difficult spaces. Use of forearm crutches may require more practice and control than underarm models, but they reward the user with greater comfort, mobility and independence.
For both styles, proper fitting and use of the crutch is important. For advice on fitting and using crutches, speak to your medical practitioner or ask a Mobility Store staff member.