When recovering from a leg injury, surgery or other condition, it is important that an individual avoid placing weight on the affected limb -- doing so can result in extreme pain and further injury. Crutches are usually used for a prolonged period of time, as broken bones and torn ligaments heal slowly. Hospitals typically provide crutches or wheelchairs for patients who cannot place weight on a leg, and generic crutches can usually be bought from chemists and pharmacies. However, one may encounter a situation in which crutches are needed but a hospital or store is inaccessible. In this circumstance, it is possible to fashion crutches out of common household items.
Using a saw or some similar implement, cut the broomsticks to the correct height, then split each broomstick from one end to within 1-2 feet of the other end, creating two 'forked' broomsticks. Soak the broomsticks in water to increase the pliability and allow them to be bent to shape -- this may take up to a couple of days, depending on the type and condition of the wood in the broomsticks.
Find two suitable handgrips, or create them yourself by drilling a hole straight through the centre of a thick stick, wooden dowel or other correctly sized piece of sturdy material. The grips should be about 1 inch longer than the intended user's hand width. Find or make a suitable support piece for the top of each crutch; these can simply be 6 inch long pieces of wood or sturdy material.
Drill a hole in each of the split halves of the first broomstick where the grip should be; this should be 4-6 inches less than an arm's length away from the split end of the stick. Firmly wedge a grip in between the two holes of the broomstick (so that it holds open the split stick), and run a short length of number 10 wire through the holes and the grip. Lash, rivet or tie off the ends so that the wire holds the handle firmly in place. Then bend the forked ends of the stick inward and firmly attach them to one of the support pieces with nails or screws. Repeat this process for the other broomstick.
Pad the crutches by adding cloth or foam to the support braces and the handles. Attach small rubber pads to the bottom of the crutches to improve traction, or create an improvised traction pad with friction tape or some other high-friction material. After the broomsticks have fully dried, ask somebody who is not injured to test the crutches before allowing them to be put to use.
These crutches are not meant to be long-term replacements for medical crutches, as they are neither sturdy enough nor comfortable enough to be suitable for this use. However, they will work well in an emergency situation and are easily constructed. Be extremely careful while using these crutches; depending on the type of wood, condition and dimensions of the broomsticks, they may break after prolonged or heavy use.
Tips and warnings
- These crutches are not meant to be long-term replacements for medical crutches, as they are neither sturdy enough nor comfortable enough to be suitable for this use. However, they will work well in an emergency situation and are easily constructed.
- Be extremely careful while using these crutches; depending on the type of wood, condition and dimensions of the broomsticks, they may break after prolonged or heavy use.