Best crutches for long-term, "professional" use?
January 14, 2020 9:10 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be on crutches for months and while I'm used to the big shiny metal ones, I'm trying to think long-term. Are there some that are better, ergonomically for long-time use? Or just have a lower profile? These ones are really obtrusive and LOOK AT ME IM ON CRUTCHES and I would prefer something more low-key, if those work. Looking for personal experience or personal knowledge about this. Thank you!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh also I do not want a knee scooter, I think they are even more attention-grabby and I need to navigate uneven terrain, curbs, stairs, etc.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:11 AM on January 14


There’s a YouTuber named Josh Sundquist who’s a lifelong crutch user. He likes wrist crutches and has done several review videos.

I’ve used crutches for 2 months with zero weight bearing on the affected leg, and I preferred armpit crutches as you can be lazier with them and lean on them when you’re tired, which is probably preferable if you haven’t had years to build up your arm, core, and leg strength to adjust to being monopedal.

My preference was adjustable metal crutches bc I liked being able to quickly change the height depending on my shoe, and I found the silver metal sleeker looking with my clothing style than yellow wood crutches would have been. But they do make more clattering noises bc the nested metal rattles as you step. And the adjustable pegs are a weaker point in the crutch that can break if you’re unlucky. Mine never did, and I’ve lent out those crutches many times so they’ve been well used and very reliable- but I knew someone who fell badly when his did.

These look cool too- less obtrusive from the front than standard “two-post” crutches.

Ergonomically the main thing for either style of crutch is that you want the hand grips to be as wide as possible because that’s where all your weight is. I got some nerve damage in my fingers from using crutches - pinkies went numb for 2 months. Within a few weeks of stopping crutches, they were totally fine again.

There is a crutch brand where you put a lot of weight on your forearms, they’re kind of bold looking but apparently really comfortable. They’re called SmartCrutch. Josh Sundquist didn’t love them but he’s a lifelong user so again his muscles and priorities are a bit different than a temporary user’s might be.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 9:27 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


There are crutches that are supported by the forearms rather than the armpit that are easier to put down when not using like this
posted by raccoon409 at 9:29 AM on January 14


I know lots of people who LOVE https://www.smartcrutch.com/

Bonus: they come in a rainbow of colours.
posted by Murderbot at 9:32 AM on January 14


+1 to the Millennial Medical crutches nouvelle-personne linked to above. I've been using them for several months after a knee injury and they are a definite upgrade from the standard shiny metal ones and they are available in a few different colors; the charcoal gray ones are very low-key.
posted by gilgamesh at 9:46 AM on January 14


My kid got seriously injured a while back and was on crutches for an extended period of time. The one thing I'll say is that you're overestimating the SO SHINY LOOK AT ME factor. Those shiny silver crutches are so generic as to be completely invisible to most people. Literally everyone you know will be all "OMG you're on crutches!" the first time they see you, no matter what make or model you use, and then pretty much everyone stops noticing them immediately. Including you.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:53 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


I am a big fan of lobster and or forearm crutches. Well fitted with got tips & grips they will be far more shoulder friendly than traditional crutches and much easier to access your hands with than smartcrutches.

Working in para sport the premium supplier i am most familiar with is Sidestix

I personally don't care much what equipment looks like; I'm far more interested in how it moves. An altered gait (from use of crutches, or a knee crutch/scooter which should never be one's only adaptive equipment, or from a nagging injury) can be a fast way to get a secondary injury.

On that note a pivoting tip can help make then more adaptable for winter conditions or uneven terrain and an ergonomic grip makes a world of difference for preventing hand and/or wrist issues.
posted by mce at 9:53 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


My kid got seriously injured a while back and was on crutches for an extended period of time. The one thing I'll say is that you're overestimating the SO SHINY LOOK AT ME factor. Those shiny silver crutches are so generic as to be completely invisible to most people. Literally everyone you know will be all "OMG you're on crutches!" the first time they see you, no matter what make or model you use, and then pretty much everyone stops noticing them immediately. Including you.

This may be true for kids, but not for adults, particularly not in NYC in a professional office. It's a constant Thing.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:56 AM on January 14


Well fitted with got tips & grips they will be far more shoulder friendly than traditional crutches and much easier to access your hands with than smartcrutches.

Can you say a bit more about hand access? Thanks very much
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:57 AM on January 14


I've seen the iWalk2.0. Nothing to hold. It's like a peg-leg strapped to your thigh that you rest a knee on.
posted by ShooBoo at 10:31 AM on January 14


"Open cuff" crutches are much quicker to pick up and put down, which seems like a little thing but when you are using them all the time it is a serious upgrade.
The more common style where the cuff goes almost all the way around may be better for people who are particularly unsteady.
posted by Lanark at 10:46 AM on January 14


The thing about using crutches (or a manual chair for that matter) is that one essentially walks on their hands. Those hands aren't as available for doing regular hand things.

A nice lofstrand crutch (not lobster as I was auto-mal-corrected above) will have a cuff that means you can let go of the crutch and not drop it. Very helpful for grabbing something off a shelf, shaking hands etc.

On preview: said cuff doesn't need to be completely closed or open. I like a cuff that is just open enough that I can pull out of it but closed enough that I can raise my hand to push the elevator button for the 18th floor without having to perform any extra motor planning.
posted by mce at 10:48 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Thanks. Those sidestix look amazing, but pricey. mce, if you have time to answer another question, are they the kind of equipment that could be used by someone safely after I use them for 6+ months? I would be happy to get something like that and then donate it afterwards so that someone else could benefit from them, too, but I'd be a little wary about buying them just for me.

Thanks everyone, this has been so helpful--wish I would have asked sooner!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:52 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Long-term or intense use of armpit crutches can produce nerve symptoms and even damage - a friend who commutes by public transport and goes up and down stairs a lot had her arms all pins and needles after a week of use. Forearm crutches are much more ergonomic. They're usually adjustable, so another person can use them easily as long as various lengths are properly adjusted.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 10:59 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


They are pricey when compared to first-aid equipment but they are note expensive when compared to medical equipment. They are pretty durable and I know people who have used them for a decade or more. Sure they get new tips regularly and new grips (less frequently) but the crutch takes a beating.

I don't know where you live but here there is a never ending need for such equipment to be donated and several places to do so. Most seating & mobility clinics, childhood development centres and school programs will have take them even if they need a little TLC when you're finished.
posted by mce at 11:25 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


I bought a pair of used forearm crutches for a much better price when an orthopedic surgery required a family member be on crutches for awhile. There are lots of people out there who have very fancy medical equipment who only needed it for several months, so it's worth looking at that option once you settle on the type of crutch you'd like. They were like-new when I got them. This level of equipment is designed for long-term use, so I had no hesitation about buying a pair that were only used for a few months.
posted by quince at 11:31 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


Regarding the iWalk, the medical equipment supplier near me said they stopped carrying them because of too many injuries and near misses--he said you have to be very athletic/coordinated to start with to even think about using them.
posted by agatha_magatha at 11:34 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Knee crutches whether they roll or 'walk' like the iwalk also require a lot of attention to posture and gate. It's very hard not to fall into terrible posture when using them. They can be useful for activities such as boarding an airplane when crutches are unwieldy and chairs are ... complicated.
posted by mce at 12:13 PM on January 14


I have the iWalk 2.0. I use it around the house so I can use my hands for carrying things, cooking, making the bed, etc. I'm really glad I have it for that.

I find it more stable than traditional crutches, less likely to fall.

But my foot doesn't like being in the L position for too long, and I have to take the crutch off frequently to rest my foot. That could just be my condition. I don't use it outside of the house. I think it would be hard on my posture and gait if I could use it all the time.
posted by Leontine at 1:13 PM on January 14


Everyone I know who is on crutches long-term uses forearm crutches if they can, so I'll chime in to that.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 5:36 PM on January 14


I'm just off 6 weeks of complete non-weight bearing - I did it with regular underarm crutches but didn't have to deal with a professional setting, luckily. One advantage to the big, obvious crutches is that people in the world go "oh, someone on crutches - I should be careful not to bump in them / give them some extra room". Less obvious crutches might have less of an impact in that sense, although I have no empirical data on that. But if the primary concern is in a professional setting, maybe you can split the difference and have forearm crutches for your work and use your traditional crutches when in more crowded settings? Also, I developed some hand bruises / callouses in my 6 weeks with what I suspect is a lot less moving around than you'll be doing so different hand grips / pressure points might be helpful in that aspect as well.

Good luck! My biggest hassle was an inability to carry stuff in any convenient way. My sister got me a crutch bag (like these https://www.mobility-aids.com/crutch-accessories.html) so I could at least have a water bottle and could stash small stuff.
posted by macfly at 12:07 AM on January 15


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