Most of the time crutches follow the same bog standard design which has barely changed throughout the years. For a long time people have expected and accepted that all crutches will be the same and that that same design will be dull, functional and grey. But a look at some design concepts and artistic takes on crutches shows that there is a choice and there are ways to make crutches both practical and attractive.
Over the last five or ten years, many designers and artists have worked on a variety of projects to create innovative forms of crutches that are both eye-catching and efficient. During the same period we have seen an increase in the number of trendy affordable crutches out there (as we’ve profiled in the past), which bring more style, comfort and colour than the usual NHS grey form, but some ideas have taken things further and really looked to redefine what crutches can look like. None of them were ever mass produced for the less able market but we really think that some or all of them should be!
These Flamingo Crutches are a fantastic first example. They were created by Turkish designer Can Guvenir “to solve the important ergonomic and usage problems of the conventional crutches with its simple and aesthetic form instead of the using mechanism”. Unlike the rigid crutches you normally see, they have more flexibility and seem fluid and interesting to look at.
By a Thread walking sticks by artist, Dominic Wilcox, were something that probably wouldn’t realistically be produced for the disabled market on a large scale, due to the amount of effort that each takes to create. To make them, cotton thread is wound onto a wooden cane, one spool at a time. The thread needs to be methodically wound tightly together to give the strength and finish of a fine material in a process that takes approximately fifteen hours in total and makes them specialist bespoke pieces rather than the answer for everyone. But they are beautiful: the crutch equivalent to buying a tailored suit rather than a tracksuit from Sports Direct?
The Crutch Chair, by designer Yong Rok Kim, is innovative concept which basically does what it says on the tin. It’s a design for a pair of crutches that can be easily connected to form a chair. Simply connect them together whenever you get tired, rest them against the wall and you have a clean place to rest your legs and re-energize. A handy idea which shows that, with creativity, the classic crutch can be completely redesigned.
Another way of completely redefining the crutch is this Flex Leg design, conceived by Mike Sanders, a masters student of mechanical engineering at Brigham Young University, and created in collaboration with engineering colleague Mark Roberts. It’s part crutch, part prosthetic leg. You could say that it owes more to the latter than the former but it was very much designed as a crutch replacement, to “help people get back on their feet in a more natural way after injuring their leg” whilst keeping their hands free.
The Fulcrum Modern Crutch Design is more ergonomic and attractive than usual crutch designs. It looks good and gives more support, comfort and manoeuvrability than most crutches. It looks slightly similar to the smartCrutch design, which we’ve featured before and is now available in the UK.
Product and furniture designer, David Batho, designed this Manko Wooden Crutch Concept with built-in shock absorption and elegant, ornate looks. At the top is a memory foam cushion that conforms to the armpit and more memory foam is also located at the hand grip. At the bottom of the crutch is a spring shock to help lessen the impact when hitting the ground. So it brings together modern comforts and old school materials with spectacular results.
This S_UPPORT crutch is, other than its name, a really great idea. It’s an original, outside the box way of rethinking the standard crutch we all know (and love?). It better replicates the movement your leg would make if you weren’t using the crutch making supportive movement easier. The material of “S_UPPORT” is nano-nylon, a kind of plastic which which is just as strong as metal but far more efficient. It also has a modular design, with exchangeable part and optional accessories.
QED Crutches are a funky one piece design from Germany – so we all know they must be efficient too, right? They’re vibrant and fun with a beautiful curved form that can be stacked easily. The big problem is that being made of one fluid piece comes with a lack of adjust-ability – not great for basketball players or jockeys then.
As we see, many designers have taken on crutch design with totally new approaches in the last few years. The results have been really interesting and, although there are some other great crutches on the market, we’d love to see some of these ideas rolled out into production too!