I first came across this product at the mobility show in Birmingham and I was instantly impressed by the look and design. I tried them out and fancied putting them through their paces.
Most people think crutches are simply sticks to help you walk and to be honest you would be right, however! Crutches have come along way in design and practical use. I have a set from early days that are adjustable NHS issue and they do the job except you clink every time you take a step. I was then issued with a solid every day set that was made to measure and they where great but came with the normal issues that you get for prolonged use. Pressure pains in your wrists mainly.
Let’s look at a few other things that are over looked on everyday used crutches. The elbow cuff is normally made of moulded plastic that can be a little rough. Jumpers tend to get snagged and soon ruined by this. The hand grip is normally also made of hard plastic and anyone who uses them for a period of time will get that red painful palm where you are basically pushing down on the grip.
The rubber feet that you only ever get full floor coverage when the crutches are completely straight, use these on tiled floors like super markets and they can be lethal.
The main point to note is that crutches are really designed for a short period of time and not to take you full weight, the idea is to assist with balance not to replace it.
I tend to take most things and turn it on it’s head. For example a wheelchair, cut off the front end add a 3rd wheel and climb a mountain with it.
When smartcrutch asked me to review their product I assured them that I would push it to the limits. Everyday use they are great. Covering the initial issues every box has been ticked. The elbow support is strong smooth and padded so you don’t get the issue with snagging and most of the support is through the elbow rather than the wrist. The hand grip is a soft comfortable rubber that has plenty of give. The elbow section adjusts so that you can effectively use them solely with the elbow taking the pressure off your wrist all together. Even though they are fully adjustable you don’t get the clinking as they are a good fit and well built. To me the magic is in the feet. Being flexible they offer a constant platform and grip to the ground so slippery surfaces are not so much of an issue and as a result shopping is a lot easier and I feel much more secure.
The adjustable elbow support means that once they are at s 90 degree you are completely supported through your elbow and not your wrist while your forearm is held firm and secure. This does however take some getting used to.
So as always once I had used these for everyday use I wanted to take them out of their comfort zone. Squash is an active sport and one I enjoy. It keeps me fit and healthy but I used to fall over a lot as the floor is a slippery surface and my normal crutches didn’t offer me a good solid platform to lean into. The smartcrutch has really improved this area and is a massive assistance on court. The look is stylish , comfort is amazing and overall usability is awesome. Next was to try them off road. Here is where these awesome crutches find their weaknesses. On damp grass they don’t really hold well, on loose dusty surface they tend to lose grip but on relatively uneven rocky surfaces the flexibility in the feet seemed to work fairly well. The adjustable elbow joint means you can place a lot of your weight through the crutches but only if they grip the ground. I have not yet used them on ice but I fear the result would not be ideal. But not taking anything away from this product these conditions are not what they are designed for however it would not be difficult to adapt them to be a fantastic all rounder.
If I could have one improvement on this product it would have to be the addition of off road feet, as an adventure lover I am never more alive than when I am off the beaten track and up a mountain. There is so much potential for off road design feet that could be used on grass or in mud maybe even snow and I think smartcrutch are missing this vital sector.
These crutches are a fantastic all round product that like everything will suit some more than others but I have definitely pushed them and tested them to the current limits but I think that they still have so much more to give. Well done smartcrutch now let’s talk off road.