Did you know the invention of crutches dates back to the early 20th century? As crutches have evolved from a simple walking stick with arm support to the orthopedic and ergonomic feats they are today, so have the accessories that make them more comfortable – shock absorbing crutch grips, all-terrain tips, durable crutch bags and pouches, the list goes on.
What about the accessories then that don’t just make life on crutches more comfortable, but also, easier? Welcome to the 21st century. New assistive devices and digital tools are revamping the way people who have to use crutches are able to get things done and execute simple, everyday tasks. Favorites include:
Reacher Grabber Tool
This nifty, low-cost assistive device is perfect for picking items up off the ground or just out of reach (i.e., keys, phone, bottle, trip hazards) without having to bend, stoop over, or strain yourself while on crutches. How do you choose the best reacher grabber for you? Ask yourself what key features you are looking for:
Adjustable length and ability to hold a good amount of weight
Easy to use trigger or slide handle
Claw-shaped jaw with rubber teeth or suction cups
Ability to rotate or fold up
Built-in magnet for picking up metal objects
Safety lock to hold jaw in place when lifting items
Additional hook or horn to help with getting dressed
Then go shopping online or ask someone in your support network to pick one up at the local pharmacy or general store. In good condition, you can donate back to a charity re-store when you are done using it or sell to someone online using Craigslist or eBay.
One of the biggest struggles of being on crutches is fixing meals ready to eat and then transporting them to the table or couch you’re going to eat at. Former crutch users recommend packing food up in airtight containers and toting them to your destination in your backpack or crutch bag, but another slick idea is to actually get a table on wheels that lets you roll your meal to the place you are going to eat it.
Of course, a rolling table (or overbed table like you find in hospitals) needs to be used on flat surfaces without much carpet-to-tile or carpet-to-hardwood disturbance. You can push or pull with your reacher grabber while propped up with one crutch, or simply use a crutch to push it the few feet to your sitting area. Rolling tables are also great for transporting your laptop or notebook, for example, to the area where you are planning on working, and provide a wider surface area to organize items.
Being on crutches in the digital age will hopefully get a little easier with the help of virtual assistants who can do a multitude of things with a simple voice command – add items to your grocery list, play music, send emails and text messages, place calls, look up information, etc.
If you have an iPhone, enable the “Hey Siri” command in your general settings. This will let you use Siri, the Apple virtual assistant, without having to get up and grab your phone and hit any buttons. Or you can buy free-standing virtual assistants like Amazon Echo or Google Home that sit on your counter, shelf or table as a speaker and connect you to the home assistance you need.
What is one of the biggest obstacles on crutches? We all know grocery shopping is almost out of the question. While Amazon Prime Pantry and Jet.com give you a wide variety of more non-perishable items you can order online and get delivered relatively quickly, what about fresh produce, meats, fruits, veggies and drinks like milk?
Apps to the rescue! For fresh groceries, check with your local grocery store – online ordering and fast delivery are becoming more and more popular with regional chains, including Whole Foods and Safeway. Depending on where you live, other services like Instacart or Peapod also offer online grocery ordering with delivery within hours. First-time customers often receive large discounts or promo codes, so keep your eyes peeled for savings.
Recovering from an injury that requires crutches is hard enough – don’t let completing everyday tasks become overwhelming stressors too. Find the right tools, be they practical devices you use manually or digital help you find online, and save yourself both time and stress in the healing process.