Author – Dr Brian Glover M.B.BCh.
(Retired after thirty years experience in Mining Trauma medicine. Orthopaedic trained and experienced in Surgical Treatment and Rehabilitation back into the mining workplace. Special interest in Hand surgery. Associate member of both the SASSH and SAOA for over twenty years.)
Smartcrutch is a fully adjustable crutch that was designed by a patient who was subjected to a protracted convalescence following an Achilles rupture then re-rupture following conservative treatment in plaster cast. The morbidity and discomfort he experienced on conventional crutches, led him to this design.
The assessor of this report was offered the Smartcrutch crutches for a 7 week convalescence following knee surgery requiring partial weight bearing. The crutches were used to travel overseas to the UK traveling both by air and rail and using public transport for a period of 4 weeks.
The design of Smartcrutch is unique in the crutches market.
Versatility is superior. It can function at a variety of forearm crutch carrying angles.
The angles can be adjusted from 15° to 90°.
The hand piece can be lengthened or shortened to balance the centre gravity under the shoulders to suit the patient. The heights are adjusted similarly to conventional crutches along the shaft below the pivot.
The foot piece rubbers are unique in design. The design allows the rubber to angulate in all directions during weight transfer to the ground, ensuring horizontal adherence of the non-skid flat tread to the ground at all times. This provides a far more secure hold than conventional foot rubbers, adding to the increased feel of confidence the crutches give.
Smartcrutch crutches instill more confidence from the outset than conventional crutches.
They are light weight despite them appearing more sturdy and stable.
The rubber foot pieces are a decided improvement in security and comfort. They do not slip!
The forearm weight bearing design results in no fatigue to the wrists and hands despite long periods of ambulation. No painful hypothenar eminence and carpus following long periods of weight bearing as experienced with conventional crutches i.e. wrist sparing.
At the end of the seven week period there were no callosities over the heels of the hands.
The transfer of weight from the crutches through the forearm up to the shoulders was more ergonomically efficient resulting in less fatigue.
The ability to customize the crutches to suit each individual arm, standing in queues purchasing tickets and consumables was a decided advantage.
They allow freeing the hands whilst still enabling weight bearing support in making transactions at the bank, railway stations and retail stores.
The design attracted attention from other disabled crutch users, who immediately saw the advantages, and asked for contact details of the suppliers.
The aesthetic appearance is appealing. The customization of colour and inscription of company logos of health services like for example, the armed forces, will make them attractive to company suppliers.
The crutches are more bulky than conventional crutches and are less easy to store on public transport.
They are more expensive than conventional crutches.
Their long term durability is unproven. However the pair utilized was put through a hammering overseas, more than would be expected from the average patient. They suffered no failures or breakages over the seven weeks in use.
The paintwork design utilizes transfers that scratch more easily than powder coating or aluminium chrome dioxide finishes.
The Smartcrutch presents a superior product than conventional below elbow crutches or long armpit crutches. They are ergonomically superior in every way and are fully adjustable to enable true customization of the crutch to suit each upper limb in every individual. They lead to less morbidity than is experienced with the other two conventional crutches. They are more secure and will result in less accidental falls due to slipping and fatigue.
They are indicated especially for chronic usage, e.g. Neuro patients, Musculodystrophy patients, Spinal patients and Arthritic patients where ergonomic improvement is paramount and where wrist and elbow joint disease make conventional below elbow crutches unsuitable.