Background Due to demographic changes, an increasing number of individuals depends on permanent walking aids. The use of forearm crutches is associated with pressure load on hands and forearms which can lead to overuse symptoms such as pain, skin bruises or nerve compression. We have recently shown that the main pressure on the forearm during forearm crutch walking is located along the ulnar bone.
Objectives To clinically evaluate a recently developed anatomic cuff for forearm crutches.
Methods A clinical pilot study was performed. The design was prospective, longitudinal and uncontrolled with a 4 weeks follow up. Nine patients permanently using conventional forearm crutches for degenerative joint or spine impairment were included. Participants used the forearm crutches with novel anatomically shaped cuffs (Ulnar Pro, Rebotec, Quakenbrueck, Germany) and an anatomic handgrip. The SF36v2 health survey and a questionnaire accessing pain, paraesthesia, comfort and sense of security based on 9-point Likert-scale were used to assess clinical improvement from baseline to the 4-week study end point.
Results Pain (p=.005) and paraesthesia (p=.003) over the ulna decreased and comfort (p=0.003) and sense of security (p=0.004) increased with the anatomic cuff compared to the previously used conventional cuff. Similarly, physical functioning (p=.021), role physical (p=.005), bodily pain (p=.005) and general health (p=.012) measured using the SF36 survey improved.
Conclusions The anatomic cuff appears superior to conventional cuffs in terms of reduced pain and increased comfort at the forearm. This result is clinically relevant for short and long term users of forearm crutches to reduce discomfort and complications.
Disclosure of Interest A. Arnieri: None declared, A. Mündermann: None declared, T. Hügle Consultant for: Dr. Hügle was involved in the development of the anatomic cuff.