Crutches can help your child walk when a hip, leg, knee, ankle, or foot has been injured. Your doctor will tell you how much weight—if any—your child can put on the leg.
The first step in using crutches is getting the right fit. When your child stands, the top of the crutches should hit about 1½ to 2 inches below the armpits. The handgrips should be even with your child's hips.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
How can you care for your child at home?
- Have your child bend their elbows slightly and then press the padded top part of the crutches against their side, under the armpits.
- Make sure that your child puts their weight on the handgrips, not on the pads under the arms. (Constant pressure against your child's underarms can cause numbness.) Your child will then swing their body forward. If your child has been told not to put any weight on the injured leg, have your child keep that leg bent and off the ground.
- To complete the step, your child puts their weight on the healthy leg.
- Your child will then move the crutches about 12 inches forward and start the next step.
- Have your child use ramps and elevators when possible.
Sitting down and getting up from a chair
- To sit, have your child back up to the chair. Your child can use one hand to hold both crutches by the handgrips, beside the injured leg. With the other hand, your child can hold onto the seat and slowly lower themself onto the chair.
- Have your child lay the crutches on the ground near the chair. If crutches are propped up, they may fall over.
- To get up from a chair, have your child pick up the crutches and put them in one hand beside the injured leg. Your child should put their weight on the handgrips of the crutches and on the good leg to stand up.
Going up and down stairs
- To go up stairs, have your child step up with the good leg and then bring the crutches and the injured leg to the step. To go down stairs, your child puts the crutches and injured leg on the lower step and then brings the good leg to the lower step. This saying may help your child remember: "Up with the good, down with the bad."
- For stairs that have handrails: Have your child put both crutches under the arm opposite the handrail. Your child can use the hand opposite the handrail to hold both crutches by the handgrips. Your child holds onto the handrail when going up or down. Have your child follow the same process used for stairs: Your child puts the good leg on the step first when going up. Your child leads with the crutches and injured leg on the way down.
Current as of: November 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Joan Rigg PT, OCS - Physical Therapy