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Crutches and children - stairs

Taking stairs with crutches can be tricky and scary. Learn how to help your child take stairs safely.

Taking Stairs with Crutches

Teach your child to put his weight on the uninjured foot and leg when going up or down stairs. Walk behind your child when going up stairs, and walk in front of your child when going down stairs.

Your child may find it easier to scoot up and down the steps. Using the hands and good foot, your child can scoot up or down the stairs using the bottom. This can be a better method for younger children.

Tell your child to think UP with the good foot or leg and DOWN with the bad foot or leg.

To go upstairs, tell your child to:

  • Put the good foot on the step and push up.
  • Push down hard on the crutches to help lift up too.
  • Lift the crutches and the bad leg up to the step. Both legs and crutches are on the same step now.
  • Do it one step at a time.
  • Repeat this until completely up the stairs.

If there is a handrail, have your child hold both crutches in one hand or you can hold the crutches for them. Hold the handrail with the other. Step up with the good leg. Bring the crutches up to the step. Repeat for each step.

To go down stairs, tell your child to:

  • Lower the crutches to the step in front.
  • Put the bad foot out in front.
  • Balance on the crutches (or handrails) and hop or step down with the good foot. Keep the bad foot out in front.
  • Do it one step at a time.


American Academy of Othopaedic Surgeons website. How to use crutches, canes, and walkers. Updated December 2020. Accessed January 18, 2023.

Edelstein J. Canes, crutches, and walkers. In: Webster JB, Murphy DP, eds. Atlas of Orthoses and Assistive Devices. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019 chap 36.

Osorio M, Tsao E, Apkon SD. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 733.

Review Date 12/12/2022

Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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