What Are Canadian Crutches? Should You Use Them?
The Canadian crutch is a type of underarm crutch that often gets confused with other types of crutches.
The Canadian crutch is a combination of an underarm crutch and an elbow crutch. Canadian crutches are also called elbow extension crutches.
Canadian crutches feature a cuff that fits around the elbow area for added comfort and support. One noticeable advantage Canadian crutches have over underarm crutches is in their construction.
Elbow extension crutches are generally made out of aluminum, so they are much lighter than wooden auxiliary crutches. Because they are lighter, elbow extension crutches are much easier to use to get up and down stairs.
How to use Canadian Crutches
There are a lot of different ways to walk with elbow extension crutches, so you’ll have to develop your own walking style as you get more familiar with this type of crutch over time.
If you have a minor injury, you can employ what’s known as the two-point gait pattern.
To do this, move you right crutch and left foot forward at the same time, then repeat with the other leg and crutch.
Using the two point gait mimics walking normally, so only use this style if you don’t need much support from your crutches.
For serious injuries that require more support, you can try the four-point gait technique. This technique involves always having three points of contact with the floor at all times. Move one leg forward at a time while using your other leg and the crutches for balance.
Over time, this technique will increase your upper body strength. If you’re strong enough, you can even move both crutches forward at the same time and swing your torso and legs through in a controlled motion.
Canadian crutches are best used for long term injuries. Similar to lofstrand crutches, they’ll increase your upper body strength over time.
If you want to learn how to use underarm and forearm crutches read our article here.
Disadvantages of elbow extension crutches
The only disadvantage of Canadian crutches when compared to underarm crutches is how much weight is supported. It’s easy to use underarm crutches to support around 75-80% of your body weight, but you’ll have trouble transferring even 50% of your weight if you’re new to this type of crutch.
These crutches require upper body strength to be used properly, especially if you want them to support a significant amount of your body weight.
Remember, Canadian crutches are underarm crutches with an elbow cuff in the middle; they are also called elbow extension crutches. They are very different from lofstrand or forearm crutches, which have their own design.
Check out our different types of crutches article here. You can also view alternatives to crutches or some crutch accessories here.