Original Editor - The Open Physio project. Top Contributors - Samrah khan, Rachael Lowe, Ammar Suhail, Redisha Jakibanjar and Laura Ritchie  


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Crutches are a type of Walking Aids that serve to increase the size of an individuals Base of support. It transfers weight from the legs to the upper body and is often used by people who cannot use their legs to support their weight (ie short-term injuries to lifelong disabilities).

Crutch Type

There are three types of crutches; Axilla crutches, Elbow crutches and Gutter crutches.

Axilla or underarm crutches They should actually be positioned about 5 cm below the axilla with elbow flexed 15 degree approximately.[1] The design includes an axilla bar, a handpiece and double uprights joined distally by a single leg. They are adjustable in height, both the overall height and handgrip height can be adjusted (adjustable approximately 48 to 60 inches (12 to 153 cm)[2])

Forearm crutches (or lofstrand, elbow or canadian crutches). Thier design includes a single upright, a forearm cuff and a hand grip. The height of the forearm crutches are indicated from handgrip to the floor (adjustable from 29 to 35 inches or 74 to 89 cm).[2]

Gutter Crutches (or adjustable arthritic cruches, forearm support crutches) These are additional type of crutches, which is composed of padded forearm support made up of metal, an strap and adjustable hand piece with rubber ferrule. These crutches are used for patients who are on partial weight bearing like Rheumatoid disease.[1]

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It is essential that crutches are measured and adjusted to suit every patient they are given to. There are various methods to measure both the canes.

Walking pattern

There are several different walking patterns that an individual using crutches may use, including:

  • 2 point : this gait pattern is less stable as only two points are in contact with floor and good balance is needed to walk with 2 points crutch gait.
  • 3 point: this gait pattern is used when one side lower extremity (LE) is unable to bear weight (due to fracture, amputattion, joint replacement etc). It invloves three points contact with floor (two crutch point and one unaffected LE).
  • 4 point: this gait pattern is used when there's lack of coordination, poor balance and muscle weakness in both LE, as it provides slow and stable gait pattern with three points support.[1] [3]


The use of crutches may be indicated if a patient:

  • Has lost the use of a limb (it is either injured or amputated).
  • Is having problems with Balance and impaired strength.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Gardiner DM. The Principles Of Exercise Therapy, 4th ed. india: CBS Publishers & Distributors; 2004.
  2. 2.0 2.1 O'Sullivan SB, Schmitz TJ, Fulk G. Physical rehabilitation. FA Davis; 2013 Jul 23.
  3. Dr Das P. Walking Crutches. (accessed 27 December 2016)