For 10+ years I used crutches on and off, these were crutches that were given to me by physiotherapy!
After many years of use I started to have problems with my shoulders and hands, sometimes I could hardly move my right shoulder and so my GP tried some steroid jabs, he said the problem was an impingement. Further tests revealed that I have what they call mechanical damage to my wrists and now I have carpal tunnel syndrome.
A few years ago I started looking for some better suited crutches, I came across http://www.smartcrutch.co.uk at first I was a bit hesitant at paying £120 for a pair of crutches but my wife pointed out that this is something that I am reliant upon for most of the day and that I couldn’t carry on using the NHS ones and so I made the decision to buy a pair.
Wow I wish I had bought them years ago, firstly they are so comfortable and the pressure on my hands was no more, they also helped with my shoulders, although it was a little to late as the damage was already done. Also the fact that the ferrule (rubber foot) on the smart crutch is flexible, this means that is always 100% in contact with the floor no matter what angle the crutches are at.
Now this post wasn’t intended to be an advert for smart crutches, whilst responding on Facebook I suddenly wondered why NHS services allow people to use their crutches long term, as far as I’m concerned the standard NHS crutch is only suitable to help someone whilst recovering from a break or sprain etc. Why isn’t there either an NHS crutch that is better suited to long term use or a way to purchase a crutch with NHS assistance for long term use, because I have now got damaged shoulders and hands and I know of others that have the same problem.
So I decided to ask the question but who do I ask? I phoned NHS England and asked if there was anything in place to advise people about long term crutch use and they had no idea how to address the question and so I started lower and contacted my local hospital, my question is being passed on to the manager of rehab and I will work up from there. It may not sound like a big problem but if it helps a handful of people avoid damage to their shoulders, wrists and hands, then it’s worth it.
I now no longer use crutches, I use a wheelchair because of pain in legs but also because of the problems with my shoulders and wrists, I wish someone had told me to use a wheelchair sooner because I know that by using crutches at home and for short distance and the chair for longer periods of time and distance, I would have avoided these added problems.
Until next time!