Crutches: Underarm or Forearm
Crutches: Underarm or Forearm – In this video Cindy, PT with Adaptive Equipment Corner discusses the efficiency, posture, and comfort of both underarm crutches and forearm crutches.
Underarm or Axillary Crutches
- more typically used in the United States
- held under your arm with top of the crutch resting next to your side
- weight to be put through the palm of the hand at the hand grip
- should have 2-3 fingers width between the top of the crutch and your armpit
- often used incorrectly/adjusted incorrectly resulting in leaning/hanging on the top of the crutch in the armpit area
- injury can sometimes occur due nerves in armpit area being compressed, resulting in crutch palsy/paralysis
- may be used for short or long term use, though more typically used short term
Forearm Crutch (Lofstrand Crutch)
- more typically used in countries outside of the United States
- usually have some form of “cuff” that goes around the forearm
- weight to be put through the palm of the hands
- may be used for short or long term use, though more commonly used long term
Several studies look at heart rate, oxygen consumption and pivot point/length of the crutch with use of both underarm and forearm crutches with varying results. General consensus seems to be that though both types of crutches takes a degree of upper body strength, the forearm crutches seem to take a bit more.
Please let us know of any links to studies on the comparison of posture while using the underarm crutches verses the forearm crutches!! With Cindy’s use of the crutches, she felt as though she was able to maintain a better upright posture with the forearm crutches, having to lean slightly forward when putting her weight down through her hands.
Weight bearing with the standard underarm and forearm crutches occurs down through the palms of your hands. Many companies are making varying crutch styles for both the underarm and forearm crutch to address both the weight bearing issue as well as improve shock absorption. We received a crutch called the SmartCrutch. This forearm crutch has an adjustable arm trough, which allows the weight bearing to be spread from the hand, back through the forearm over a larger surface area, which can result in improved comfort.
Check out SmartCrutch Product Review here: https://youtu.be/XZULX_FsCgo
In Summary, what type of crutch is best for you will depend on how long you will need to use them, what you will be using them for and how strong you are regarding upper body strength.
Crutches are not easy to use and will always take some practice not matter what type of crutch you use, especially on stairs. We recommend that you always consult with a local Physical Therapist regarding which type of crutch might be best for you as well as for training for use.
Check out these other helpful videos as well:
How to Sit, Stand and Walk with Crutches: https://youtu.be/xz0eGJF6kh4
Going Up and Down Stairs with Crutches Non Weight Bearing: https://youtu.be/tbdC-yWCFLg
How to Adjust Crutches: https://youtu.be/nKffM1HqJ08
These videos are for informational purposes only. We recommend that you consult with your physician and local physical or occupational therapist to be evaluated for your adaptive equipment needs.