Elbow Crutches

Measuring for and advising patients on the use of elbow crutches is an important skill for ED staff.

Elbow crutches are widely used in the UK for a variety of mobility problems. It is common to issue them in the ED so we should know how to size them to a patient and the key advice the patient needs to use them correctly.

Elbow crutches are in three main parts.

1. The neck and elbow brace or collar. Sometimes this is adjustable. Pictured it is not. In either case the collar should not be over or above the elbow crease. If adjustable alter it so it sits just below the elbow crease.

2. The Handle

3. The stem of the crutch which runs from the floor to the handle. This is two parts which telescope to adjust the height of the crutch and is finished off with a non slip rubber ferrule.



Fitting Crutches

When measuring a patient for crutches, as stated above the collar should sit just below the elbow.

The crutch should be at a height that when the patient is stood up with a straight back they have their elbow flexed to about 20 degrees.

The easiest way to achieve this with most patients is to have the patient stand straight up and adjust the crutch so that the handle is in line with the wrist crease.



Patient use advice

It is good practice to advise the patient on the use of the crutches, demonstrate their use and finally observe them in use and assess that the patient is safe and stable on the crutches.

We have a patient advice leaflet which outlines the key points, and can be given to the patient for their reference.



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