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Mobility Options: Alternatives to Crutches

Updated on February 17, 2017
Geoff Simmons profile image

My name is Geoff, and I'm a medical student, originally from Miami. I enjoy writing about some of the topics I'm learning in school.

Why Consider Other Options?

Crutches can quickly get annoying after using them for a while. Being on crutches for a long period of time impacts your quality of life and encourages bad posture.

Traditional crutches also have an antiquated weight bearing design that isn't the friendliest on your body. After a while, your hands and back will start to hurt.

Many of us consider crutches to be our only option when we are injured. This hub explores a few options that are much more comfortable. These are options if you have a recovery time of more than 4 weeks.

Example of a knee scooter
Example of a knee scooter | Source

Knee scooters

Knee scooters are interesting mobility devices. They basically operate like a hands free crutch on wheels. You rest your injured leg on the knee pad and push yourself with your hands and your good leg.

Knee scooters are almost comparable to scooters you used as a child. Knee scooters are great for airports or malls while injured. If you've been to either of those two examples on crutches, you know how frustrating and slow the experience can be.

Knee scooters are best used for ankle injuries. One thing to be aware of with knee scooters is to not keep your leg in the bent position for too long. Part of healing from a leg or ankle injury is getting proper blood flow to the injured area. If you're resting on your knee for too long you can interrupt blood flow to your injury. Knee scooters are convenient because you can stop in public and sit down on them.

Power wheelchair

You might not think of a power wheel chair as a alternative to a underarm crutch but they can be quite useful. If you go on a vacation to a theme park, or just want to spend a day outside, you’ll quickly get tired standing on crutches the whole time.

A power wheelchair is great for getting you around quickly and without wasting your energy. You can also switch between your power wheelchair and crutches. Power wheelchairs are also great for keeping your hands free in public and can act as an extra bag.

A few things to keep in mind about power wheelchairs:

  • Keep up regular maintenance on the wheels, frame etc
  • Make sure the seat cushion is comfortable & allows for proper posture
  • Remember you have to find ways to transport your power chair

Classic forearm crutches with vinyl handgrips
Classic forearm crutches with vinyl handgrips | Source

Forearm crutches

Forearm crutches are much better than underarm crutches for long-term use. Forearm crutches won’t hurt your back or cause you to develop bad posture. You can use forearm crutches to increase your arm and back strength. They are great alternatives to regular crutches, you can learn more about using forearm crutches here.

What's interesting about forearm crutches is how such a basic design is so effective. Forearm crutches have a steeper learning curve, but the benefits of mastering this type of crutch is well worth it. I've yet to come across someone who prefers underarm crutches after making the switch to forearm crutches.

One tip to keep in mind about forearm crutches is to buy some custom crutch tips. Customized crutch tips make it easier to keep your balance on slippery surfaces & make your crutches more versatile.

Example of how a stair lift fits on your stair case
Example of how a stair lift fits on your stair case | Source

Stair Lift

A stair lift is a device you can have installed in your home to help with mobility. This is a very convenient device that allows for independence inside the home. Installation is done by first studying your staircase and seeing if you have an obstacles such as windows in the way.

Once the electrical wiring is done, the installation process is very quick. All controls are monitored directly from the chair. Technology now allows these devices to be very quiet and quick. If you've ever had to go up or down stairs on crutches then you know how convenient a stair lift would be.

Details on hybrid crutches
Details on hybrid crutches | Source

Walker/Cane Hybrid

This type of cane is halfway between a walker and a cane. They focus on giving you lateral, side-to-side support, which makes them more stable than crutches or a cane by itself. You can adjust walker/cane hybrids to be used with either one or two hands.

This device is intended for people who already have moderate ability to move. This hybrid device isn’t meant to replace a walker for someone who needs the complete support at all times. Hybrid canes are an interesting alternative that may become more popular in the future.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, no matter your injury, you’re definitely not limited only to crutches. You can get creative and try out different mobility devices. Let me know in the comments which device is your favorite!

© 2017 Geoff

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