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UCLA Crutching Handout

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UCLA-Student Health Services - Use of Crutches Handouts

The height of your crutches should be adjusted so that when you are standing your shoulders are slightly depressed, your wrists are flexed and your elbows are bent. Crutches that are improperly proportioned to your height and arm length can cause back and shoulder fatigue and pain when used.

If you become tired and need to rest when using crutches, sit down or lean against a wall or other object. Do not rest by shifting all your body weight to the axillary crutch rests (armpit rest).

Prolonged leaning on the axillary rests can result in temporary paralysis of your radial nerve, causing pain and a numbing sensation in your arms.

To use your crutches properly when you cannot bear weight on one leg, follow these simple steps:

1. Put both crutches forward about 1 to 1 1/2 feet, supporting yourself on your strong leg.

2. Shift your weight forward over the crutches, bringing your strong leg forward through the crutches.

3. Repeat both steps.

To ascend stairs on crutches follow these steps:

1. Hold the railing with one hand, placing both crutches under the opposite arm.

2. Lift your body by pushing on the crutches and the railing so that you can raise your strong leg to the step above.

3. Lift your injured leg and the crutches to the same step.

4. Repeat the action above, one step at a time.

To descend stairs on crutches, follow these steps:

1. Hold the railing with one hand, placing both crutches under the opposite arm.

2. Lower the crutches to the step below.

3. Bend your strong knee shifting your weight to the crutches and the railing, and step down with your strong foot.

4. Bring the crutches down to the same step.

5. Repeat the actions above, one step at a time.

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