Forum

Sticks vs crutches advice

Can you give me your experiences / thoughts please?

Background: I’d like to accompany my wife on visits to country fairs, shows, etc. This would mean doing more walking and covering greater distances than usual. I’ve been thinking about changing my normal 1 walking stick to using 2 - or alternatively changing stick to be 2 elbow support style crutches.

My main concern issues are left-side foot-drop, and worsening general balance after a time (if unsupported) - basic distance itself should not be a problem for me as I can always briefly rest if required and don’t get hampered by fatigue thankfully.

I’ve ruled out a ‘Rollator’ as some surfaces may be over grass, and I don’t fancy wheels sticking.

I use two hiking poles if going any distance. They don’t stop the bad leg running out of steam after a certain point and requiring rest, without which I would start going round and round in a small circle like the Glasgow drunk in a Billy Connolly sketch. But they do help me to get as far as I can (which isn’t very far, I’m afraid) with minimum fuss.

The difference to stability and ease that two hiking pole make (instead of one) is definitely worth having.

Alison

I have a similar problem - my partner goes to kiting festivals, not the best terrain for a wheelchair. Got to admit, i can walk a bit so the last time I pushed my wheelchair and then sat when pooped. Camping chairs are simply too low for me to get out of.

One of the reasons I have bought an off road wheelchair. New problem - actually getting it to the venue in the first place. We don’t have a car so hiring might be the answer.

I would see about the possibiltiy of HIRING wheelchair or scooter for the day. If venue is near, you can take in car.

I used first one then two crutches (back when I could walk). For me, the benefit of crutches was that they help to bear weight rather than just stabilise you. Also you can hook a crutch on your arm rather than find somewhere to lean it, as you would with a stick. And if you’re a bit off balance, leaning down to pick up a dropped stick is hazardous.

The other thing you could do is see what help you can get with your foot drop. You could try an orthotic device, which basically holds your foot in a stable position, so you don’t trip over your toes - get a referral from your MS nurse, physio or neurologist. Or a foot-up you should be able to get one of these from your physio if you have one or have a look at https://www.ossur.co.uk/injury-solutions/products/foot-and-ankle/ankle-foot-orthosis/foot-up Or you could see if you could get an FES, try talking to a physiotherapist about this.

If you don’t have a physio for advise and help, get a referral to one. They should be able to help with the stick/crutch dilemma too. Even get you crutches on the NHS so you can try and see what works best for you.

Sue

Like Sue, when I could walk, I started with 1 elbow crutch then moving to using 2. I chose crutches over walking sticks because I felt that they would give me more support. To help me carrying small items I used a pod which attached to a crutch that could hold things in.

Neil

I never gave crutches a thought until I went for physio and she recommended I try a crutch and it really stabilises you. She will also refer you to orthotics. I use a cuff type thing and it makes all the difference. I’m still dithering over a FES but because I have to self fund I think I’m going to stick with the cuff. At least I can walk more safely but it’s not perfect.

I was referred by my ms nurse.

Mags x

Well, thanks for all the feedback so far - very much appreciated!

Regarding the foot-drop I have now just got an orthotic from local NHS, and need to spend some time getting use to wearing it - if it stops some of the more painful ‘stubbings’ it’ll prove to be a God-send.

Overall, I’ll speak with my O.T. on Monday about getting a pair of crutches I think - I did consider two sticks but I have a bad habit of leaning on sticks and therefore don’t help myself balance wise or walking straight.

Hopefully crutches will keep me up straighter and provide me with better vertical support over distance.

Hope you all have a good weekend

K

I only suggest hiring a scooter or some such, because I know, a few years back, I could manage with a stick or two - but if it was a whole day thing I ran out of steam. Shoulders would ache (leaning on sticks) and ankles swell up. No shame in hiring scooter if it keeps you going for longer.