Crutches and Wheelchairs

It is helpful for leg amputees to possess a pair of crutches, even after an artificial limb has been fitted. You may have a day when the prosthesis is uncomfortable or it is being repaired, or you may find them handy to use after a bath and before bed.

The physiotherapist, who arranges for the crutches to be issued to you, will train you in the use of them and make sure that they are the correct length for you. There are two main types: the conventional long underarm type and the elbow crutch. Try both types, if possible, and decide for yourself which suits you best. The elbow type may be taken apart and packed easily in a suitcase, so they may be preferred by someone who travels a lot. However, where x-ray luggage inspection is conducted at international airports, metal crutches in a suitcase can cause some problems as they can be wrongly identified as firearms. It is recommended that crutches are best taken as a separate item of luggage to eliminate such a problem.

Wheelchairs - All lower limb amputees who are unable to wear a prosthesis are entitled to a wheelchair, as are those who wear a prosthesis but need a wheelchair for use within the home. Stump supports for wheelchairs are also available for those who need them. A specialised wheelchair assessor (usually a physiotherapist or occupational therapist who is specialised in wheelchair provision) will complete an assessment with you to find a wheelchair suitable to your needs.

You may need to have alterations made inside your home to cater for the wheelchair and steps into your home may need to be replaced with a ramp. You can apply for assistance for carrying out any such alterations to your home. If you feel that you need a wheelchair or alterations to your home environment, ask your Limb Centre, hospital or GP to refer you to the appropriate service. If your amputation was the result of an accident, ask your ACC Case Manager.

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