How to make life on crutches easier?
August 5, 2008 5:26 PM   Subscribe

Tips or hacks for getting by on crutches for a few weeks (non-weight bearing, post-knee surgery)?

It's been three weeks and I only have a couple weeks left, but it's getting really old and surely there are some ideas out there that I haven't thought of.

Mostly I hate not being able to carry things around home or the office. Shorts with cargo pockets help, but not for plates of food. Wearing a backpack backwards is too uncomfortable to be helpful (also no good for plates of food). I have a rolling office chair, but there are raised thresholds in my apartment's doorways so it's not a great way to go from room to room. I am told that hopping is VERY VERY BAD because of the chance I'll injure my good leg.

In addition to carrying things, I'd love to be able to do dishes, clean the bathtub, mop the floor, and the like. I am resigned to asking for help and/or waiting till I'm more mobile, but if there's a way to be more independent NOW that would be great.

I don't suppose there are any magical speedy ways to go up and down subway stairs or to open a heavy door?

I'm looking for tips from people who've been there, like these duct-tape crutch saddle bags.

Also, tell me if there are crutch tricks I don't already know. I know about sitting on a chair with the crutch's armpit end under my butt, so I can prop my leg on the horizontal crutch in front of me, and I know about making an X with the crutches in front of my chair and propping my foot up on the handles at the center of the X.

I don't need crutch-comfort tips, like adusting the padding or whatever. They feel fine.

Side question, how can I keep my eyeglasses from sliding down my nose when I'm looking down all the time? (Can't walk to the optician to get the glasses adjusted, or to the optomestrist to get contacts, or to the sporting goods store to get some kind of eyewear retainer/strap.)
posted by nevers to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When I broke my foot last year, my husband rigged my crutches up for me. He installed a neoprene drink holder below the handgrip on one of them. It's useless as a drink holder (for open containers, anyway) because the drink sloshes out, but it's the cat's ass for carrying a pen/small notebook/the cordless phone/etc. He also installed tire flys on them... he said it was for safety but I think it was a little bling to cheer me up.

I don't think there's a good way to carry a plate of food. If you figure it out, let me know!

/OBTW, I had knee surgery ten days ago, a procedure called lateral release. I'm fortunate; I walked out of my surgery. You have my sympathy.
posted by workerant at 6:06 PM on August 5, 2008

My mom broke her leg and rented something called a "Roller Aide." It is like a little wheeled scooter that supports your injured leg. It allowed her to zip around her kitchen and prepare food, put things away, etc. It didn't work so well on carpet, and I am not sure how it would work on your thresholds. The wheels are much larger than those of an office chair, though.
posted by Ostara at 6:57 PM on August 5, 2008

Are you sure you still need crutches? My docs told me crutches for 6 weeks after I had an ACL replacement w/ a patella graft from the same knee. I ditched the crutches after 2 weeks. I definitely was hopping or mostly hopping in the beginning. I was 21 at the time, so that might have had something to do with it. Anyway, I thought I would get chewed out by the Drs and the physical therapists for leaving crutches so early, but in particular the physical therapist thought it was helping me recover faster.
posted by ill3 at 7:24 PM on August 5, 2008

Being a cyclist, when I broke my leg I reached for my trusty musette, a simple cloth bag that was always over my shoulder. Big enough to carry the silly little items that you now realised you coudn't carry any more coz you didn't have the use of your hands.
posted by tim_in_oz at 5:21 AM on August 6, 2008

Response by poster: The tire flys look cool -- they light up? Is that it? I am all for making my crutches cheer me up.

Sadly I can't put weight on the front of my knee like the Roller Aid requires. It's really better for people with foot and ankle injuries.

And ill3, this is my 4th knee surgery. I don't feel like going into it but yes, I still need crutches.
posted by nevers at 6:31 AM on August 6, 2008

Just came off crutches and cast (thank freaking god). I used an office chair relay (three office chairs), had the same threshold problem. Having a relay meant I just had to transfer from one chair to the other, no hopping involved. The trick is to be forward at the threshold so that you're just rotating from one seat to the next (seats facing each other). This worked great.

I was able to wash the dishes from one of the chairs (it was quite high), but never did manage to empty the drainer. Coulda, but it was such a hassle that I gave it up. So I would wash, and my partner would empty.

Bathtubs a problem. I broke my ankle, so I could kneel. Maybe just live with an icky tub for the 6 weeks. It won't kill you. Ditto the floor.

Opening doors will work best if the hinges are on your injured side. Weight on the uninjured foot, pull the door open, prop it at the bottom with the injury-side crutch. Leaving the crutch there swing through, then release the door once you're clear. This is more difficult if the hinges are on the injured side, but can still be done. I got applause for this more than once.

Stairs suck, period. Up was tedious but doable. I only went down them on my butt. No subways for me. Best bet is to use handicapped access ones, don't know if this is possible for you.

If you're like me, you will not get decent advice from your doctors. Mine gave me no handouts, no internet sites (despite being asked and despite the fact that I found some good ones), was not available by phone or email and his nurse wouldn't give me any information except "do what the doctor told you" (which was nothing). Shoulda just come to metafilter. YANMD, but at least you guys respond! ;P
posted by nax at 7:43 AM on August 6, 2008

My main advice when dealing with a temp injury is to slow down and think. Whenever I started to rush (crutches, broken hand, whatever), I usually failed, got frustrated and decided things couldn't be done.

The plate of food is rough, but maybe a Tupperware container of some kind? One for each thing you are eating? Put in bag, shake to remove stuff from lid before opening?
posted by QIbHom at 8:58 AM on August 6, 2008

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