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Crutches and children - standing and walking

Definition

Help your child learn how to stand and walk safely with crutches.

Standing with Crutches

Your child has to be able to balance a little to stand with crutches. Tell your child to hold the head high and look forward, keeping the shoulders back and the stomach and buttocks tucked in. Have your child stand on his good leg. Keep the crutches slightly forward and apart.

Walking with Crutches (No Weight Bearing on Hurt Foot or Leg)

This means that your child cannot put any weight on the hurt foot or leg. The arms, hands, crutches, and good foot are used to move about. Tell your child to:

  • Stand on the good foot. Hold the crutches against the side of the body. Squeeze them using the arms and side of body.
  • Move the crutches about one step in front, with the crutches out a little wider than his feet. Move the hurt leg forward with the crutches.
  • Push down on the crutches with his hands on the handgrips. Squeeze the crutches between the arms and sides.
  • Put his weight on the handgrips and move forward.
  • DO NOT lean on the crutches on the armpits. Putting weight on the armpits can hurt, and your child can get a rash and damage nerves and blood vessels under his arm.
  • Hop forward on the good foot just a little in front of the crutches. This is one step.
  • Start the next step by moving the crutches about one step in front with the injured leg.
  • Look ahead when walking, not at the feet.

Walking with Crutches (Partial Weight Bearing)

This means that your child can touch the ground with his bad foot to help with balance. Tell your child to:

  • Stand on the good foot.
  • Move the crutches about one step in front.
  • Put the bad leg forward with the crutch tips. The toes can touch the ground, or a little weight can be put on the foot for balance.
  • Put most of the weight on the handgrips. Squeeze the crutches between the arm and the side of the chest.
  • Take a step with the good leg.

References

American Academy of Othopaedic Surgeons. How to use crutches, cans, and walkers. OrthoInfo. orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00181. Updated February 2015. Accessed January 6, 2017.

Edelstein JE. Canes, crutches, and walkers. In: Hsu JD, Michael JW, Fisk JR, eds. AAOS Atlas of Orthoses and Assistive Devices. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2008:chap 42.

Review Date:11/27/2016
Reviewed By:C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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