How To Use Walkers & Crutches - Fundamentals of Nursing

Sep 4, 2020


Welcome to RN Patient Advocates, your trusted source for expert nursing guidance. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the fundamentals of using walkers and crutches effectively. Whether you're recovering from an injury, managing a chronic condition, or assisting a loved one, understanding the proper techniques and equipment is crucial for maintaining mobility and ensuring safety.

Understanding Walkers

Walkers are mobility aids designed to provide stability for individuals with balance or ambulation issues. They consist of a frame with four legs, handles, and sometimes wheels. Walkers offer support and can bear weight while walking, offering increased independence for those with mobility challenges.

Types of Walkers

There are different types of walkers available, each designed for specific needs:

  • Standard walkers: These walkers are basic frames with four legs, providing stability and support.
  • Two-wheeled walkers: These walkers have two front wheels, making them easier to maneuver.
  • Three-wheeled walkers: These walkers have three wheels, offering increased mobility and maneuverability.
  • Rollators: Rollators are walkers with four wheels, a seat, and hand brakes, providing additional support and the option to rest if needed.

Using a Walker Safely

Proper usage of a walker is essential for safety and efficiency. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Adjust the Walker

Ensure the walker is adjusted to the correct height. Your elbows should be slightly bent when holding the handles. The walker should be stable on the floor, with all four legs making contact.

Step 2: Stand Upright

Place the walker in front of you and stand upright. Maintain a comfortable posture with your head up and shoulders relaxed.

Step 3: Step Forward

Move the walker forward slightly, taking small and controlled steps. Always keep at least one hand on the walker for stability.

Step 4: Completing the Walk

Continue stepping forward, gradually increasing your speed and gait. Make sure to maintain good posture and engage the muscles in your legs for optimal stability.

Understanding Crutches

Crutches are another commonly used mobility aid for those with leg injuries or disabilities. They provide support while keeping weight off the injured or weakened limb, facilitating movement and helping prevent further injury.

Types of Crutches

There are different types of crutches available, each offering unique advantages:

Standard Crutches

These crutches consist of a top handle, adjustable height tubing, and handgrips. They require significant upper body strength and coordination to use effectively.

Forearm Crutches

Forearm crutches, also known as Lofstrand crutches, are designed to provide additional support while minimizing discomfort and pressure on the hands. They feature forearm cuffs and handgrips and are suitable for individuals with better upper body strength and balance.

Using Crutches Correctly

Learning the correct technique for using crutches is crucial for mobility and safety. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Adjust the Crutches

Ensure the crutches are adjusted to the proper height. The top handles should align with your wrists, and there should be a two-finger width gap between the underarm pads and your armpits.

Step 2: Maintain Upright Posture

Stand up straight, keeping your weight evenly distributed between your good leg and the crutches. Avoid slouching or leaning to one side.

Step 3: Move Forward

Move the crutches forward, followed by your injured/weak leg. Transfer your weight to the crutches while swinging your good leg forward.

Step 4: Repeat and Maintain Stability

Continue the process, taking small steps and ensuring the crutches provide stability and support. Remember to always look forward and maintain a balanced posture.

Tips for Safe Usage

  • Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any mobility aids.
  • Ensure your walker or crutches are in good condition and have proper maintenance.
  • Wear appropriate footwear that provides stability and comfort.
  • Take your time and move at a comfortable pace.
  • Avoid slippery or uneven surfaces.
  • Use handrails or support surfaces when available.
  • If using crutches, practice going up and down stairs with the help of a physical therapist.

By following these guidelines, you can confidently and safely incorporate walkers and crutches into your daily life. Remember, if you have any concerns or questions, reach out to a healthcare professional or consider seeking support from a patient advocate like RN Patient Advocates.

At RN Patient Advocates, our mission is to provide valuable resources and guidance to empower individuals in managing their healthcare journey. Trust us to be your reliable source of knowledge and support as you navigate the complexities of healthcare.