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Bones

How to Walk with Crutches Following Hip Preservation Surgery

If your child has a common joint problem like hip dysplasia, they may need hip preservation surgery. Hip preservation surgery is an innovative way to help relieve joint problems as naturally as possible. In some cases, surgery is done to repair any damage to the soft tissues while reshaping or reorienting bones that disrupt the proper function of the joint. Following surgery, your child will need to know how to use crutches. 

That’s because an important part of your child’s recovery will be getting up and moving around as much as possible. To help, the day of their surgery, a physical therapist will show them how to use crutches, including how to use crutches on stairs. 

How to Use Crutches Safely  

  • Keep the pressure or weight on your hands and not on your armpits. Nerve damage can result if weight is placed on the armpits for too long. 
  • Keep your elbows close to your side to keep the crutches against your ribs. 
  • The tips of your crutches should be two to three inches out to the side of your feet,so you don’t trip on your crutches. 
  • There should be a slight bend in your elbow when holding onto the crutches (15-20  degrees). 
  • Take your time and don’t try to walk too fast. 
  • Keep your head up and look ahead. Don’t look at your feet while walking. 
  • When walking on carpet, pick up your crutches and injured leg more than when you walk on other surfaces like tile, linoleum or wood. 
  • Remove all throw rugs from the floor to keep from slipping and falling. 

How to Use Crutches to Walk 

  • Lean forward slightly and put your crutches about one foot in front of you.  
  • Begin your step as if you were going to use the injured foot or leg but, instead, shift your weight to the crutches.  
  • Bring your body forward slowly between the crutches.  
  • Finish the step normally with your good leg.  
  • When your good leg is on the ground, move your crutches ahead in preparation for your next step.  
  • Always look forward, not down at your feet. 

How to Use Crutches to Sit and Stand Back Up 

To sit:

  1. Back up to a sturdy chair.  
  2. Put your injured foot in front of you and hold both crutches in one hand.  
  3. Use the other hand to feel behind you for the seat of your chair.  
  4. Slowly lower yourself into the chair.  
  5. When you’re seated, lean your crutches in a nearby spot.  
  6. Be sure to lean them upside down — crutches tend to fall over when they are leaned on their tips. 

To stand up:

  1. Inch yourself to the front of the chair.  
  2. Hold both crutches in the hand on your injured side.  
  3. Push yourself up and stand on your good leg. 

How to Use Crutches on Stairs 

If the stairway has a handrail, use it for support. 

Going up stairs with a handrail: 

  1. Place both crutches under your arm on the opposite side of the rail. 
  2. Grasp the handrail with your other hand, if possible. 
  3. Bring your good leg up to the next step. Let the injured leg trail behind. 
  4. Straighten your good leg and bring the crutches and injured leg up. 

Going down stairs with a handrail: 

  1. Put the crutches on a lower step. 
  2. Lower your injured leg down to the lower step. 
  3. Support your weight between your crutch and handrail. 
  4. Move your good foot to the lower step. 

Going up stairs without a handrail: 

  1. Keep the crutches on the stair you’re standing on. 
  2. Support your weight between your crutches. 
  3. Bring your good leg up to the next step. Let your injured leg trail behind. 
  4. Straighten your good leg and bring the crutches and injured leg up. 

Going down stairs without a handrail: 

  1. Put the crutches on a lower step. Support your weight between your crutches. 
  2. Bring your injured leg down to the lower step. Let your good leg trail behind. 
  3. Bring your good leg down.  

If your child feels unsteady, it may be easier for them to sit on each step and move up or down on their bottom. 

  1. Start by sitting on the lowest step with your injured leg out in front.  
  2. Hold both crutches flat against the stairs in your opposite hand. 
  3. Scoot your bottom up to the next step, using your free hand and good leg for support. 
  4. Face the same direction when you go down the steps in this manner. 

If you and your family are considering a hip preservation procedure for your child, you can learn more about our surgical and nonsurgical hip preservation procedures here. 

Do these symptoms sound familiar? Our 30-minute consult appointment could help get answers.

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