Underarm crutches

Measure underarm crutches with the patient standing in a secure environment, such as between parallel bars.

Each crutch should extend from a point approximately 4 to 5 cm (two finger breadths) below the axilla to a point on the floor 5 cm lateral and 15 cm anterior to the distal foot.

Pardo RD, Deathe AB, and Winter DA: Walker user risk index: a method for quantifying stability in walker users. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 1993; 72: pp. 301-305

Hand piece placement should enable the patient to have a 30-degree resting elbow flexion angle. Less flexion is suitable for the individual who walks by alternating foot steps.

Reisman M, Burkett RG, Simon SK, and Norkin C: Elbow moments and forces at the hands during swing through axillary crutch gait. Phys Ther 1985; 65: pp. 601-605

In an alternative method used to determine crutch height, subtract 40 cm from the patient’s heigh

Beckwith JM: Analysis of methods of teaching axillary crutch measurement. Phys Ther 1965; 45: pp. 1060-1065

or make the crutch equal to 77% of the subject’s height.

Bauer DM, Finch DC, McGough KP, et al: A comparative analysis of several crutch-length-estimation techniques. Phys Ther 1991; 71: pp. 294-300

When the person is supine, the crutch extends from 5 cm below the axilla to 5 to 7.5 cm from the lateral border of the heel.

Schmitz TJ: Preambulation and gait training. In O’Sullivan SB, and Schmitz TJ (eds): Physical rehabilitation: assessment and treatment, 4. Philadelphia: FA Davis, 2001.

In the sitting position, the patient can abduct both arms to shoulder level and extend the elbows.

Crutch length is the distance from the tip of the middle finger to the tip of the olecranon process of the opposite arm.

Najdeski P: Crutch measurement from the sitting position. Phys Ther 1977; 57: pp. 826-827

An adjustable measuring crutch also can be used.

Tagawa TT: Adjustable measuring crutch. Phys Ther 1963; 43: pp. 113-114

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