Armpit supports

What are armpit supports?

Armpit supports are walking aids that are intended to relieve one or both legs. They differ from regular forearm supports in that the support is not held with the hands and forearms, but is fixed by the armpit over a longer shaft. There is a curved support surface that is positioned under the armpit. In addition, there is a handle along the armpit support towards the foot, which is gripped by hand for stabilization.

Indications for armpit supports

If a patient cannot or is not allowed to put full weight on the lower extremity after an operation, an accident or in the event of paralysis, walking aids must be used. Forearm crutches are usually prescribed.
However, there are patient groups in whom the hands, wrists, forearms, elbows and upper arms can only be subjected to limited stress. In this case, crutches can be used, which transfer the force directly through the armpit to the shoulder.

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Difference from forearm crutches

The difference between armpit crutches and forearm crutches is quickly apparent. Forearm crutches are significantly shorter. They consist of a length-adjustable stick, a handle and an angled shell for the forearm and elbow. The affected person takes the load off their legs by instead transferring their weight to the forearm support via their hand.

Armpit supports are significantly longer. In principle, they also have a height-adjustable support. At the level of this knee, the support is divided into two parallel supports. Between these is a handle for the hand and a padded support surface for the armpit. The load on the leg is relieved by power transmission to the armpit and shoulder. It is important that not all of the weight is placed on the armpit. The basic idea is that the armpit support is wedged between the upper arm and the body. In contrast to the forearm crutches, the hands and forearms as well as the wrists and elbow joints are less stressed. While pressure points and complaints in the hand and forearm regularly occur with forearm supports, these problems with armpit supports are shifted to the armpit and shoulder area.

Incorrect upholstery and use can lead to neurological failures. This is explained by the course of important nerve cords for the upper arm (brachial plexus) in the armpit area. In Germany, armpit crutches are only rarely used because they restrict the patient even more and pull them out of the regular movement pattern than forearm crutches do.

If you are interested in the subject of "forearm crutches", read our next article under: Forearm crutch

How do you learn to walk with armpits?

Walking with crutches can be quite complex, depending on the size of the symptoms, age and previous experience with crutches. Ideally, you should not use it for the first time alone or on your own. After an operation or an accident, a physiotherapist will give instructions in the hospital. In the event of difficulties, time is taken here to ensure that the patient is safe and competent in using the armpit supports.

In the outpatient area, help can be requested in the course of physiotherapy or from the treating family doctor. Healthcare professionals are aware of the relevance of adequate use due to their knowledge of the risks associated with incorrect use; therefore, if you are unsure about the correct use, you can always ask. Of course, via the Internet, e.g. Correct walking with armpit supports can be learned or controlled on video portals.

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How do you adjust the armpit supports correctly?

The armpit supports should only be adjusted by qualified personnel. These include e.g. the treating doctor or his employees, employees of a medical supply store or even a physiotherapist or occupational therapist.

The principle is that the armpit support is adjusted in length so that it sits well in the armpit. Furthermore, the handles must be adapted to the arm length so that the handles can be gripped easily and there are no incorrect loads. The exact procedures depend on the manufacturer of the armpit supports. As a rule, however, the setting should be possible with the instructions without special tools.

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What accessories are there for armpit supports?

When purchasing an armpit support, it is equipped with all parts that are necessary to use it correctly and in a non-damaging manner. However, depending on the manufacturer, upholstery and rubber feet can be purchased if they are worn or lost. Some manufacturers also offer special foam covers for the handles and armpit supports. Furthermore, special rubber attachments for the feet of the armpit supports can be purchased. These should make walking with the armpit supports more comfortable by padding or buffering. Generally for assistants and supports, there are wall and bed brackets or stands for easy setting down and use of the armpit supports.

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