These tips will make walking with crutches while traveling easier and more convenient.
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Walking with Crutches | Tips to Make Traveling Comfortable and Easy
Step 1: Choose the Right Crutches
Whether walking with crutches can be smooth or fast depends on the type you’re using. Today, you can now see them in various designs, but three are the most popular:
- Axillary or underarm crutches
- Gutter crutches
- Forearm or loftstrand crutches
Of the three, axillary crutches are the most common. They feature an underarm pad, which you keep close to the ribcage, and a handle or grip.
These are the crutches that are easiest to learn and master, so if you’re a new traveler, you may consider this one.
Gutter crutches and the forearm crutches, meanwhile, are the ones that give you greater flexibility and movement control. Forearm types already include an elbow grip to keep your arms steady.
Gutter crutches are more ideal for people with a degenerative disease affecting their arms such as rheumatoid arthritis. They have a pad that supports the entire forearm.
Step 2: Learn How to Maneuver
You can also practice different ways of walking with crutches:
- Three-Point Gait
- Two-Point Gait
- Swing Through
The three-point gait is best for those with one of their legs and feet in good condition. It involves moving both the crutches and the better foot out each time you walk.
In the two-point gait, you can alternate both the crutches and the legs. These are ideal for individuals who have better legs but are not strong enough to walk without support.
To do this, you can walk the right foot and the left crutch out. Then you alternate it with the left foot and the right crutch.
The drag-to is for those who have weak legs but strong arms that can support the body’s weight. As its name suggests, you can advance both crutches and then drag the legs and feet forward.
The swing through will give you the fastest speed of the four. This is because you can swing your legs and feet even farther from the crutch level.
Your doctor, physical therapist, and you can evaluate together which of these will be the best gait pattern based on factors such as injury, health condition, and strength.
Step 3: Plan Your Trip to a T
When you’re traveling with crutches, it’s best not to leave any room for surprises. The last thing you want to happen is to find out your accommodation only has stairs.
Here are some questions to help you plan:
- Where do you intend to fly? Focus on those that are friendly to disabled travelers.
- Does the airline count your crutches as personal items or carry-ons?
- Do they allow crutches, and how do they store them?
- How long are you planning to stay there?
- Does the accommodation have a lift?
- What are your modes of transport around the area?
- Does your airline provide free and excellent assistance to disabled people?
- What do you wish to do during your travel?
- Do the attractions you wish to visit complete with disabled-friendly access or facilities?
- Where is the nearest hospital or clinic?
Sometimes with all the walking, your crutches can break down. It’s also essential you know where to get crutches to replace the old ones.
Step 4: Bring a Backpack
The tip “travel light” is never truer than when you end up walking with crutches. Avoid trolleys and, instead, use a backpack.
Traveling light will also help you avoid going to the conveyor belts and waiting for your luggage for a long time. You can also avoid exposing yourself to a large crowd.
Step 5: Include Your Joint Supplements
Some supplements such as Body Protective Complex can help hasten joint recovery. This option, for example, can stimulate the production of collagen, which can strengthen joint and muscle support.
These don’t cure your condition, but they can be your best companion when you need to walk for hours. They can help restore your tired joints at the end of the day.
What to Do When on the Airport and the Plane
After we’ve covered the basics of walking with crutches, we’ll continue with flying with crutches. What do you do when you’re at the airport and on the plane?
Step 1: Plan Where to Sit
If you can, please book a seat within the first three rows of the plane. You can also sit at the front but not near the emergency exit door.
You can also choose a seat closest to the aisle, so you don’t disturb individuals when you have to use the restroom. This will also keep you near to the cabin crew in case you need some assistance.
To guarantee your seat, buy it while you’re still booking your flight. Pick an airplane with bigger legroom, so you won’t have issues maneuvering yourself quickly.
Step 2: Arrive Early
Even if your legs are getting stronger, walking with crutches can still slow you down. Try to arrive at least an hour or two before your official check-in time.
For example, if the airline advises you to come three hours before the flight, do it at four hours. This will give you ample time to reach the check-in counter and the gate.
Tip: Many airlines today now allow online check-in. Take advantage of this, so you can skip the queue.
Step 3: Use a Wheelchair
The crutches may be enough, but you will make traveling around the airport so much easier by opting for a wheelchair. You can inform your airline beforehand, so someone can meet you at the door as soon as you arrive.
Speaking of your arrival, if you’re driving, look for the airport valet station. If someone is driving you, ask them to stop at the entrance and the curbside.
Step 4: Practice RICE
People with crutches and a sprained ankle can be prone to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and swelling. To minimize this, practice RICE:
What is deep vein thrombosis? It refers to a blood clot that develops in the deeper vein of the legs. Sitting for long periods like in a long-haul flight can increase the risk of DVT.
Have an ice pack ready (the crew can fill it with ice) and compress it on your sprained ankle. Once in a while, consider standing up to allow the blood to circulate.
You may also need to elevate your legs by raising them a few inches from the floor and holding your position for a minute or two once in a while. Don’t forget to stretch too.
Tip: You can also massage your feet, although it may make you look awkward.
Step 5: Be Patient
When you’re walking with crutches, you’re usually the first to board but the last to go out. Be patient then as the airline and the airport are only ensuring you can disembark with the least hassle possible.
Here are some more travel tips for people on crutches from Marc Baer:
Walking with crutches can be a pain (no pun intended), but it should not stop you from traveling and seeing the world. These steps should give you the confidence you need to make it happen.
Do you have tips on walking with crutches? Share them in the comments section below!
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