We are hearing a lot of strongly expressed views regarding the wisdom of using underarm crutches vs forearm crutches. As we make both forearm and underarm crutches, we felt that we should explore the strengths and weaknesses of each type so that we can better advise our customers.
It is apparent, after speaking with many of our customers, that to some degree it is a matter of personal choice what kind of crutches that you prefer to use. Different countries also show marked tendencies to promote one kind over the other. Europe tends to promote the use of forearm crutches but in Canada and the United States you are more likely to be set up with underarm crutches. So what are the strengths of weaknesses of each?
Underarm Crutches vs Forearm Crutches
- Easy to learn how to use or master
- Easier to get “balanced”
- Requires relatively less upper body strength
- Allows the use of hands when working in a standing position
- If not used properly can cause nerve damage in the underarm area
- Difficult to master on stairs
- More difficult to master
- Requires relatively more upper body strength
- Less likely to cause nerve damage with long term use
- Allow for more flexible approaches to walking
- Forearm crutches are thought to be more comfortable
So, in conclusion, for many people forearm crutches are the better choice. For others, particularly those who do not want to go through the process of mastering forearm crutches, underarm crutches may be the better choice. One of our customers, for example, (shown above) would have a difficult time doing the work he does with forearm crutches.
Just remember that if you are using underarm crutches, your weight should be carried on your hands and not on your armpits. The underarm pads are there to stabilize the crutches, not support your weight. Routinely carrying your body weight with your underarms may cause nerve damage with long term use. The underarm pads on the Safewalk™ Custom Underarm Crutches are designed to minimize chafe by being thin and very smooth … rather then being heavily padded.
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