Different Types of Crutches
Crutches provide support for people who have injuries below the waist. These injuries include broken bones, pulled muscles, sprains and strains. People with disabilities that affect mobility also use crutches for walking support. Doctors order specific types of crutches based on the extent of each injury, the physical condition of each patient and the type of support needed.
Platform crutches offer support for people who cannot bear weight in their wrists. This includes people with arthritis and cerebral palsy. Platform crutches have padding for comfort in the upper extremities. Caylor School of Nursing at Lincoln Memorial University indicates that people use these crutches on a long-term basis.
Forearm crutches provide support for people with weakness in both legs. Some of these crutches have platforms for added stability and safety. Because these crutches provide partial weight-bearing support, Cuesta College reports that medical professionals rarely recommend them for use by senior citizens. Patients use forearm crutches by slipping each arm into a cuff and holding on to the crutch's grip. The cuffs, usually made of metal or plastic, have an opening that allows the forearm to slip out if the person falls.
Commonly used in the United States, underarm crutches provide support for temporary injuries or disabilities. Patients use these crutches by placing the pads beneath the armpits and holding the grips. These crutches require less upper arm strength than other crutches and require very little training. These crutches also cost less than other types of support crutches. Underarm crutches require proper fitting to prevent problems. Martin Avenue Pharmacy Inc. indicates that the two most important adjustments include the overall height of each crutch and the distance from the underarm support to each handgrip.
The inventor of the Easy Strutter Functional Orthosis System designed Strutters to eliminate some of the problems associated with the use of underarm crutches. These problems include axillary artery stenosis, blood clots and aneurysms. Some cases of nerve damage have also occurred from extensive use of underarm crutches. Strutters support the user's weight without injuring the nerves and blood vessels in the axillary area, the area of the body under where the arm connects to the shoulder.
Leg support crutches help with disabilities and injuries that affect the lower portion of only one leg. Use of these crutches involves strapping the injured leg into a support frame. This support frame transfers the load of the person’s weight to the thigh or knee. Because this crutch does not require the use of arms or hands, it eliminates some of the complications associated with the use of other types of crutches. Because of their design, patients cannot use leg support crutches for injuries in the hip, pelvis or thigh.
- Caylor School of Nursing: Nursing Strategies: Alterations in Musculoskeletal Function
- "Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development"; Comparison of the Easy Strutter Functional Orthosis System and Axillary Crutches; Dr. John Nyland, et al.; March/April 2004
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. How to use crutches, canes, and walkers. Updated February 2015.
Leigh Ann Morgan began working as a writer in 2004. She has extensive experience in the business field having served as the manager of a $34 million rental property portfolio. Morgan also appeared as a guest on an episode of National Public Radio's "Marketplace Money" in 2005.