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Crutch Walking for Children

If ordered by the doctor, your child will be fitted for crutches and be taught how to use them by a healthcare provider. Below are some helpful tips to get your child started.

Measurement of crutches

  • The top of the crutches should be about 2 finger widths below your child's armpit (make sure their shoulders are relaxed).

  • When their arm is hanging straight down, the hand piece should be at the level of the wrist.

  • Have your child hold the top part of the crutch firmly between their chest and the inside of the upper arm. Make sure your child doesn't let the top of the crutch push up into their armpit. It's possible to damage nerves and blood vessels with constant pressure. Have your child support their weight with their hands on the hand rests. The hand rests should be padded.

  • When standing still, it will be safer for your child to stand with the crutches slightly ahead and apart. Once again, they shouldn't let the top of the crutches push up into their armpit. They should stand straight.

Walking (non-weight-bearing)

Have your child:

  • Put the crutches forward about 1 step's length.

  • Push down on the crutches with their hands, hold the "bad" leg up from the floor, and squeeze the top of the crutches between the chest and arm.

  • Swing the "good" leg forward. They should be careful not to go too far.

  • Now step on the "good" leg.

Walking (partial weight-bearing)

Have your child:

  • Put the crutches forward about 1 step's length.

  • Put the "bad" leg forward, level with the crutch tips.

  • Take most of the weight by pushing down on the handgrips, squeezing the top of the crutches between the chest and arm.

  • Take a step with the "good" leg.

  • Make steps of equal length.

Sit to stand

Have your child:

  • Keep the crutches nearby so they can be reached when needed.

  • Hold the hand grips of both crutches in 1 hand. Use the crutches with one hand and the side of the chair with the other hand. Make sure the chair is stable. If needed, have someone stand behind them.

  • Stretch the "bad" leg out straight.

  • Push on chair, crutches, and the "good" leg. Then stand up.

  • Keep the weight off the "bad" leg. Balance. Place the crutches in place for walking.

Stand to sit

Have your child:

  • Walk straight up to the chair.

  • When they are 1 step away from the chair, they should turn until their back is toward the chair using the "good" leg and the crutches. (Move the crutches, then step, crutches, step, a little at a time.) Never pivot around.

  • Move backwards until the chair touches the back of the "good" leg.

  • Remove the crutches from under the arms.

  • Hold both crutches in 1 hand and reach for the chair with the other hand.

  • Stretch the "bad" leg out in front.

  • Sit down slowly.

Stairs

Tips for your child:

  • Use 1 crutch and the stair rail, if there is one (only if the railing is stable and there is someone to carry the other crutch). Use 2 crutches if there is no stair rail.

  • It doesn't matter which side the stair rail is on.

  • If both crutches can be held in one hand safely, they can use both crutches on 1 side and the railing on the other.

Up stairs

Have your child:

  • Walk close to the first stair and hold onto the stair rail.

  • Hold onto the rail with 1 hand and the crutch with the other hand.

  • Push down on the stair rail and the crutch and step up with the "good" leg.

  • If not allowed to place weight on the "bad" leg, hop up with the "good" leg.

  • Bring the "bad" leg and the crutches up beside the "good" leg.

  • Remember that the "good" leg goes up first and the crutches move with the "bad" leg.

Down stairs

Have your child:

  • Walk to the edge of the stairs in the same way.

  • Place the "bad" leg and the crutches down on the step below. They can support their weight by leaning on the crutches and the stair rail.

  • Bring the "good" leg down.

  • Remember that the "bad" leg goes down first and the crutches move with the "bad" leg.

  • Use the same rules when going up and down curbs or doorsteps.

Safety steps

Some tips for your child:

  • Take care on slick or wet surfaces (for example, the kitchen and bathroom).

  • Be careful of throw rugs. They should be removed.

  • Never hop around holding on to furniture. It may slide or fall.

  • Keep the crutches near so they are always in reach.

  • Wear low-heeled shoes that won't slip off (such as sneakers).

  • For the first few days, a strong belt may be worn to let someone help them.

  • Be careful of ramps or slopes, as it is a little harder to walk.

  • If falling, they should throw the crutches out to the side and use their arms to break their fall. To get up, they can get into a sitting position. Then back up to a stool or low chair. Put their hands backwards on to the chair. Bend the "good" leg up. Pull with their hands and push with the "good" leg to get up onto the chair.

  • If they aren't allowed to put weight on the "bad" leg, hop up with the "good" leg.

  • Don't remove any parts from the crutches, including the rubber tips.

Helpful hints

  • A bedside toilet may be used.

  • Ask teachers in school to let your child out of class a little early to avoid crowds on the stairs.

  • Keep the "bad" leg up on a stool when sitting.

  • Carry schoolbooks in a backpack to leave both hands free.

  • Don't lean on the underarm pieces.

Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Thomas N Joseph MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Trina Bellendir PT
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2020
© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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