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What to use Instead of Crutches?

If you’re a senior and you’ve fallen and broken your leg or hip, you’ll be off your feet for a while. But when you’re convalescing and moving around a bit, you still need to keep your weight off the injured limb or joint.

That’s when one or two crutches become very useful. You can’t use a walking stick, so don’t even try. You need to keep your weight off the injury and a crutch is the only way to do this.

Or is it?

Before we talk about the alternatives to crutches, let’s see why using a crutch is so difficult.

Why is walking on crutches so hard?

Crutches are one of the simplest and least expensive mobility aids. They’re light, easy to use and don’t need a lot of space so can be used in places like a bathroom.

You can throw them in the back of a car with no trouble, and get them out the other end to use with even less trouble. No special equipment’s needed, they keep the weight off your injured leg, and help build up arm strength too.

But, they’ve also got some negatives. If you want to use crutches, you need upper body strength and a good sense of balance. If you don’t, you might end up falling again and causing more injuries.

RELATED: How to improve balance in elderly

They are less stable than many other supports such as a knee walker or a wheelchair and might cause a lot of pain in the upper body if you don’t use them correctly.

A big disadvantage is that you have to use hands and arms so you’ll find it very difficult to carry anything, open doors, or stand while drinking.

What are the best crutch alternatives?

So, if you have problems using crutches, what other alternatives are there?

Wheelchair

This is what everyone thinks you should use when you can’t use crutches. And, sure enough, they are very good at supporting your weight when you have an injured leg or foot. You can carry items in your lap or hang bags on the back of the chair. They are very stable and can be used in place of a normal chair at the dining table or a desk.

Unfortunately, however, wheelchairs are bigger and more cumbersome than some other aids. They’re difficult to maneuver in a tight space like a bathroom and obviously, you can’t use them on stairs., If you tire easily, you’ll also need someone to push you around.

Furthermore, one of the biggest disadvantages is that your uninjured leg isn’t doing any work so you’ll lose muscle mass in that leg.

Is a knee scooter better than crutches?

These are sometimes called knee walkers. Anyway, they combine the best of a wheelchair’s stability and a crutch’s flexibility. It’s like a bicycle, with handlebars and brakes but no pedals.

It has three or four wheels and a padded and contoured saddle for supporting your knee and injured leg. Your uninjured leg does all the work of pushing the scooter around.

Once again, it is difficult to use in a confined space and it’s no good if you have an injured knee. But, when you’re in the standing position, you can cook, wash the dishes and all kinds of normal activities.

These are lighter to handle than a wheelchair and are great for kids and adults of all ages. Pricewise, a knee scooter is generally more affordable than a wheelchair.

Can you use a walker instead of crutches?

The ‘walker’ or ‘walking frame’ has a steel or aluminum frame that wraps around your front and sides and has four legs with non-slip rubber feet. You use it by lifting and placing it a couple of feet in front of you, support yourself with your arms, then shuffle up to it. Repeat this action.

You can’t support your entire weight with this because you use your arms, but it is useful if you need extra stability when walking or when you have balance issues. For more detailed information check the best walkers for seniors.

How about a four-wheeled walker rollator?

This is the next step up from a walker. It’s almost the same, except that it has wheels instead of feet, and has handlebars and brakes to control it. Rollators also have a platform at about knee height for your knee or can be used as a seat when you get tired.

They also have a padded crossbar to act as a backrest when using it as a seat. Most rollators also have a bag fixed onto the framework to carry personal items or shopping. Rollators are solid and stable, very convenient and comfortable to use. They are usually made from tubular steel rather than aluminum, to provide a robust frame able to support most users’ full bodyweight.

If you have arthritic hands, you’ll find it easy to use the handlebars and brakes. They’re designed specifically for people with this problem. They’re easily adjustable to any hand height and can be set at just about any angle.

Unfortunately, if you have cobbles on your driveway or garden path, you might have problems using a rollator. Similarly, if the road is very uneven or has a steep slope you’ll find it difficult to manage.

However, a rollator is marvelous to use compared to crutches. If you have a broken leg, you’ll find this appliance so easy to use, and you can sit down for a rest whenever you want.

RELATED: Can you use a rollator instead of a wheelchair?

Knee crutches

This crutch is great if you want a simple, hands-free walk. It’s the modern version of the old fashioned ‘pegleg’. Its ergonomic design is great and so easy to use.

There are fully adjustable straps to fit the knee crutch to your thigh and quick-release buckles to remove it if you need to sit down anywhere. The knee crutch is usually easy to assemble and needs no other tools to make it operate as it should.

Your knee rests on a fully padded platform, and once the straps are tightened and you’re fitted into your aid, you’ll free up your hands and arms and be able to do most things. You can walk up and downstairs, do most kinds of housework, walk the dog, prepare meals.

In fact, do almost anything compared to when you were able-bodied.  However, there are a few problems you should bear in mind.

  • If you wear the knee crutch for a long time, you may hurt your leg and the straps may cause friction sores.
  • Don’t use it for long walks, you might get bruises and sores.
  • You can’t use it if you have injuries to your knee.

What’s next?

There are many alternatives you can use instead of crutches. Which one you choose depends on your injuries, requirements and how much money you have available. 

Even if you haven’t any injuries at all, you might find one or two of these mobility aids useful as you get older and find you have more problems with balance and stamina. To find more about mobility aids check the guide to mobility aids.

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