Recovery tips

Whether you have broken your leg, or had surgery of some kind, all leg injuries mean an extended period out of action, and often on crutches as well. Or there might have been some sort of accident. Here are a few emergency and recovery tips.

  1. Clutch that crutch
    Broken legs, surgery to the ligaments, hip replacements – most of us have to endure walking on crutches at some point or another. Though crutches can be useful allies, for some of us, they can be quite difficult to master.

    Take action:
    Here's how to take a step with crutches: squeeze the crutches between your upper arm and ribs – take the weight through your hands; move the crutches forward (and make sure that you place them on a non-slippery, solid surface); move your sore leg forward (put this foot on an even par with the crutches), put as much weight as you are allowed on the sore leg, taking the rest of the weight through your arms and hands (press hard on the hand grips); step past with your stronger leg.


  2. How to make a leg splint
    If someone has fractured a leg and you're not close to a hospital, a leg splint is your best bet. Know the steps by heart.

    Take action:
    Use any cloth and tie the feet and the ankles together, using a figure eight configuration; tie the knot on the outer edge of the foot or the shoe on the uninjured side; bind the knees to each other with a bandage, tying the knot on the uninjured side; bind extra bandages above and below the fracture.


  3. Take your crutches in hand
    A broken leg or ankle can be painful in more ways than one. Having to rely on crutches to get from point A to point B can take a toll on your hands too.

    Take action:
    Ask your pharmacist for crutch pads that will prevent your hands from getting sore; if you can't find these pads, it also helps to wrap sponge around the handles, to secure the sponge with elastic, and to cover it with a sock on both sides; wearing cycling gloves may also help to prevent painful blisters from forming on your hands; a Velcro closure at the wrist of the gloves can also be useful – then you can attach the gloves to the crutches when you don't want them on, but want to keep them handy; and look after your hands while you're on crutches by moisturising them two to three times a day.


  4. Need a crutch?
    So, you're stuck with a broken leg and you're far from excited about the six weeks you have to spend on crutches. How on earth will you survive?

    Take action:
    These tips might make things easier: use two sponges and elastic to pad the handles of your crutches (also cover each sponge with a sock); get a small backpack to carry things around in while you can't use your hands; if your bedroom is at the top of a set of stairs, consider moving to the ground floor for the next few weeks (climbing stairs on crutches is not only exhausting, but can also be dangerous); remove all loose rugs in your home as these can increase your risk of slipping; and make sure you eat healthily and quit smoking – this will help you to recover faster.


  5. Home from hospital
    You – or a family member – is home from hospital after a hip replacement. Here's how to take care of those fragile hips during the next few weeks.

    Take action:
    Take things slowly, increasing your activities gradually; use crutches or a walker to move around; make a point of lying down for a few minutes once or twice during the day (if your legs or feet are swollen, put your feet up onto a pillow); improve the circulation in your legs by "pumping" your feet up and down for a few minutes, two or three times per day, while lying down; sleep on your back, with pillows in between your legs; sit only in high, firm chairs and don't lean forward while sitting in a chair or on the loo.


  6. Take care of a cast
    When a splint or cast is applied to help a broken bone heal, the cast itself requires some care. Here are a few tips, courtesy of HealthDay.

    Take action:
    Keep your cast dry – use two layers of waterproof protection to cover it when you shower; if you have a walking cast, give it plenty of time to dry and harden before you try to walk on it – about an hour for a fibreglass cast and two to three days for plaster; avoid letting sand, dirt or powder get into your cast; don't pull out stuffing or break off edges of your cast, and inspect it regularly for weak spots or cracks; don't stick any objects, powders or deodorants underneath your cast – talk to your doctor if your cast is itchy and you feel a significant need to scratch.

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