How to Measure Crutches: a Beginner’s Guideline

You were caught in an accident and now need a crutch to walk.

I am totally aware of how difficult it can be to walk with crutches as your movements are no longer natural.

However, the situation can get worse if the crutch isn’t fitted properly.

Incorrectly fitted crutches will cause severe discomfort while walking and may cause health issues. And to fit the crutch perfectly, it is important that you know how to measure crutches. Herein, in this post, we are going to teach you exactly that; measuring crutches.

Types of Crutches

There are two types of crutches. The one you use depends mainly on the type of injury you have suffered, but what your Physiotherapist says matters greatly regarding which crutch you use. The two types of crutches are:

1. Axillary or Underarm Crutches

These crutches are light and can be made out of either wood or metal. They are usually used for short term injuries. They consist of a single leg that can be adjusted for the appropriate height. They provide ample support and can be used to climb up and down the stairs.

2. Forearm or Elbow Crutches 

Elbow-Crutches

These crutches are for long term uses and for those who can bear the weight on both of their legs. Usually made out of aluminum, they consist of a forearm cuff and handgrip. Both the height and position of the cuff can be adjusted to suit your needs. Although, compared to underarm crutches, they are a bit less stable.

How to Measure the Crutches

There are many ways to go about measuring the length of the crutch with the method differing depending on the type of crutch being used. Regardless of the crutch or method used, it is best that you seek a friend or someone’s aid when doing this so as not to put too much pressure on yourself or make mistakes when measuring.

For Axillary Crutches

Here’s the step-by-step guide for axillary crutches:

  • If you plan to walk with your shoes on, then when measuring the height for the crutch, take the height of the walking shoes into consideration.
  • With shoes on, use your measuring instrument (preferably a measuring tape) to measure from 5cm vertically down from the apex of axilla till 20cm lateral to the heel of the shoes.
  • In case you want to measure without your shoes, then use the measuring tape from the apex of the axilla till the lower margin of your ankle, particularly the swell, which is known as the medial malleolus.
  • Next, you will measure and set up the handgrip. First, you need to extend the device about 15cm out from the side of your foot. Keeping your shoulder relaxed, the handpiece should be adjusted to allow around 30 degrees of elbow flexion.
  • Check the final fit of the crutch. Make any adjustments as needed before setting the crutch in place.

For Forearm Crutches

Here’s the step-by-step guide for measuring forearm crutches:

  • If you want to measure with shoes on, then wear walking shoes and have someone to support you.
  • Flex your elbow to fifteen degrees. You need to start from the ulnar styloid process and measure 20 centimetre sideways till the heel of your shoe.
  • In case you don’t want to take the shoes into consideration, measure from the same position to the ankle instead.
  • Measure the forearm from 3 inches below the elbow. Add this measurement to the one you found previously. Make sure your shoulder is relaxed and adjust the crutch so that it allows some flexibility.
  • Next, you have to measure the cuff size. A bigger arm cuff (i.e., higher up on the forearm) will allow more leverage and flexibility. However, if it is too high up, it will cause problems, mainly digging into your upper arm, when picking up objects from the ground.
  • To measure the distance of the bar, which attaches the cuff to the handgrip, you need to measure from the cuff girth to the ulnar styloid process on the forearm.
  • To take the vertical measurements, have someone hook the measuring tape on the lowest part of the crutch tip and extend it till the top surface of the handgrip of the crutch.
  • When taking this measurement, make sure you’re standing tall, preferably leaning against a wall and making sure your shoulder is relaxed. Your elbows should be flexed at around 15 degrees for this measurement.
  • Have someone hook the measuring tape from the floor and extend it up to the deep crease between the palm and the wrist. Add one inch to the measurement for better results.

Conclusion

After reading this article, we hope you have learned the importance of carefully measuring your crutches and also learned how to go about taking said measurements.

  • Updated November 10, 2019
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