If your leg has been injured in an accident, chances are you will require some help getting around, at least for a little while. Depending on your injury, it may be necessary for you to rely on a wheelchair, cane, walker, or crutches to go about your day. The following is a short guide to help you choose and get used to your mobility aid.
A break, sprain, or surgical procedure may call for you to keep weight off of an injured leg. In this situation you will likely be given or advised to buy a set of crutches. There are different types of crutches, the most common being underarm crutches. If you have never used underarm crutches before, they may at first feel strange or uncomfortable. But following these tips will make using crutches much less awkward for you:
When you are standing straight, there should be a space of about 1.5 to 2 inches between the crutch pad and your armpit. Adjust the crutch accordingly.
Don’t let the crutches press into your armpits. Rather, grip the handles of the crutches and let your hands take on most of the weight. Over time, pressure on your under arms can cause a condition known as crutch palsy, which is defined as a temporary loss of feeling or function.
Adjust the hand grip on your crutches so that your elbow is slightly bent when you hold it. This allows you to fully extend your elbow when you are walking.
When sitting or laying down, remember to set your crutches somewhere within reach and to set them upside down as they will be less likely to fall over.
If your injury is less severe, or if you only suffer from slight pain, you may choose to use a cane as an alternative to crutches. If your injury or pain is more severe, you may need to use a wheelchair.
A wheelchair is often used following a serious injury or surgical procedure, particularly when the healing process requires that little to no stress be placed on the injured leg(s). There are two main types of wheelchairs: manual-powered (user operated) and battery-powered (motorized); and even though the following tips can be applied to both types of wheelchairs, they are written with manual-powered wheelchairs in mind.
Always lock your wheelchair before getting in or out. Failing to do so could result in another fall or injury.
Try not to lean in the direction you are heading as this could cause the chair to tilt over.
Be aware of your path; don’t ride your wheelchair over any objects or uneven terrains. In the house, don’t ride over electrical wires or bunched up rugs.
Always back into an elevator as it can be difficult to get out.
Lastly, practice operating your wheelchair in the presence of someone else. While you are learning to get around, you may need some assistance to ensure no accidents occur.
If an injury has made it necessary for you to use crutches or a wheelchair, one of the most important things for you to remember is to be patient. It takes time to recover from an accident or surgical procedure, and proper use of a walking aid will help with your recovery. The most important thing is your health and safety.
Stuart A. Carpey, who has been practicing as an attorney since 1987, focuses his practice on complex civil litigation which includes representing injured individuals in a vast array of personal injury cases.