Crutches support recovery and rehabilitation after injury or orthopedic surgery by minimizing weight-bearing on the affected leg. But many patients find it challenging to use crutches properly, resulting in increased swelling, pain, and other complications. Those complications can negatively impact healing and lengthen recovery time. ComeBack Mobility has developed Smart Crutch Tips: a device-app system that helps patients comply with weight-bearing instructions while using crutches.
The system includes two Smart Crutch Tips, a mobile patient app, and a doctor app. The tips contain pressure sensors and slide onto the ends of a pair of crutches. The sensors record the peak force that each step puts on the crutches. An algorithm analyzes these recordings in real-time, determining the amount of weight placed on the injured leg.
The physician uses the doctor app to prescribe an optimal weight-bearing load program based on individual patient needs. Initial weight load falls between 10-50% of bodyweight; programs can increase load up to 0% using the Smart Crutch Tips system. Doctors use the dashboard to monitor patient progress in real-time or through daily, weekly, or monthly reports. The weight-bearing prescription can then be modified as needed.
The Smart Crutch Tips algorithm identifies steps taken outside of optimal parameters. When this occurs, the patient app sends an instant feedback alert, allowing the user to adjust their weight for the following step. The app lets users select vibrations, sounds, or lights for alerts, track daily step counts, and view daily and cumulative weight-load data. The patient app also has an SOS button that allows them to communicate quickly with their provider about issues such as increased swelling or pain. The devices can store up to 10 days of offline data when smartphone syncing isn’t available.
Although Smart Crutch Tips hasn’t yet been clinically verified, physicians and patients will likely discover that it’s a valuable tool for managing weight-bearing during recovery. According to ComeBack Mobility, the system records weight-load accurately within 100 grams (less than four ounces). That should reduce anxiety and increase confidence for individuals who must use crutches, leading to faster recovery and better patient outcomes.