I first came across Smartcrutch at Naidex the mobility show in Birmingham.
Instantly impressed by the look and design. Tried them out and really fancied putting them through their paces.
Most people think crutches are simply sticks to help you walk, to be honest you would be right, however! Crutches have come along way in design and practical use over the years.
I have a set from early days that are adjustable NHS issue and they do the job. Except the fact that you clink every time you take a step. I was then issued with a solid every day set. Made to measure! These where great but came with the normal issues that you get for prolonged use. Pressure pains in your wrists mainly.
over looked on everyday crutches
Let’s look at a few of the things that are over looked on everyday 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
Crutches are really designed for a short period of time. Crutches are not designed to take your full weight. The main idea is to assist with balance not to replace it.
I tend to take most things and turn it on its head. For example a wheelchair, cut off the front end add a 3rd wheel and climb a mountain with it. not its purpose.
When smartcrutch asked me to review their product I assured them that I would push it to the limits.
So whats my verdict
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 a 90 degree you are completely supported through your elbow, not your wrist while your forearm is held firm and secure. This does however take some getting used to.
Now for the best bit
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. My normal NHS 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 slight but not complete weaknesses. On damp grass they don’t really hold well. On loose dusty surface they tend to lose a little grip.
Now here they do shine, 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. At this point I had not yet used them on ice but I fear the result would not be ideal but only because of the feet no being completely up to the job.
few words of IMPROVEMENTS
I really am not going to take anything away from this product the conditions I put them through are not what they are designed for.
In my opinion however it would not be difficult to adapt them to be a fantastic all-rounder. It would be all in the feet!
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 the Smartcrutch to be used as off-road with the design of feet that could be used on grass or in mud maybe even snow or better still sand. I think smartcrutch are missing this vital sector.
Stepping into the future
So after my review was first published Smartcrutch came back to me with a response to the off road foot. Meet the addition of the Flexyfoot!
These feet are literally the best feet on the market, attach them to the Smartcrutch and you are left with the very best product attached to the very best product.
So how did they do under pressure? In reply to that question! They done fantastic. I decided to take them to another extreme environment and climbed Snowdon. With 6 foot of snow drifts and an inch of ice I can honestly say the Smartcrutch and Flexyfoot relationship worked perfectly.
I had to put ice over boots on over my walking boots to stop slipping but my crutches stayed almost solid.
Great addition and the results are simply awesome!
final few words
These crutches are a fantastic all round product that like everything will suit some more than others. I have definitely pushed them and tested them to the current limits and I am very impressed.
I think that they still have so much more to give and really look forward to taking this product on my adventures and keep pushing their limits. I am also very excited about the future of this product.