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How to properly fit crutches for your child for safety and comfort.

Properly fitting crutches for your child takes just moments and makes it easier and more comfortable for your child to use them. Using crutches isn't easy, takes practice, and some time to learn. Be sure that your child's crutches fit right and learn some safety tips.

It's important when your child is walking with crutches, most of their body weight is put on their hands on the handgrips and not through the underarm.  Pressure on the underarms can lead to nerve pressure and restricting blood supply leading to tingling or numbness in their hands.

Fitting Crutches

Often your child's health care provider will fit the crutches to your child. Proper fit makes using crutches easier and keeps your child from getting hurt when using them. Even if your child is fitted for their crutches verify crutch length and handgrip height.

  • Crutch length: With the crutches upright and your child standing and shoulders relaxed, you should be able to place 2 fingers between your child's underarm and the top of the crutches.
  • Handgrip height: With your child standing upright and shoulders relaxed, their wrist should be level with the handgrip. Your child's elbows should be gently bent when standing up and holding the handgrips
  • Make sure your child's elbows are slightly bent when starting to use the crutch, then extended when taking a step.
  • Confirm the rubber components, the grips, armrest and feet are on securely.

Safety Tips

Teach your child to:

  • Keep crutches nearby in easy reach.
  • Wear shoes that do not slip off.
  • Take their time.
  • Leaves, ice, and snow are all slippery. Try to avoid them. Slipping is not generally a problem on wet roads or sidewalks if the crutches have rubber tips. But wet crutch tips on indoor floors can be very slippery.
  • Never hang on the crutches. This puts pressure on the arm nerve and can cause damage.
  • Carry a backpack with necessities and within reach.
Things Parents Can Do
  • Explain to your child the proper length and hand grip height.  This way if something is out of adjustment, they know what the proper fit is.
  • Show your child how to adjust their crutches, this allows them to adjust their crutches if needed.  Children are curious.  Most will end up making adjustments "to see how it feels". It's just going to happen. Show them the proper way to do it.
  • Confirm crutch length and handgrip height daily, especially the first few days.  Let's face it, kids, more so, boys, explore and play with things.  Crutches make great "guitars", "guns", "swords" and are great for batting balls and poking others with.  Often times their friends will want to "use" them.
  • Check the screws on the crutches every few days and tighten as needed.
  • Eliminate or reduce obstacles on the floor.  This includes electrical cords, toys, throw rugs, and clothes on the floor.
  • Talk to the school to give your child extra time to go between classes and to avoid crowds in the hallway. See if your child can ask for permission to use the elevators and avoid stairs.
  • Check the crutch feet for tread. Make sure they are not slippery.
When to Call the Doctor

Call your health care provider if your child does not seem safe or comfortable on crutches even after practicing with you. The provider can refer you to a physical therapist who can further teach your child how to use crutches.

If your child complains of numbing, tingling, or loss of feeling in their arm or hand, call your provider.

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