How to survive at home alone with a leg injury

Leg injuries can be far more incapacitating than most people imagine. Not only do you become slower and move more clumsily but tasks such as sitting down can become a logistical nightmare. You lose the use of at least one hand by having to use a crutch or to stabilise yourself. Add on top of that the very real danger of sustaining further serious injuries when negotiating stairs, slippery surfaces and taking a shower and you see that your leg injury is much more hazardous than you initially anticipated.

A hot tip for many who are ‘freshly injured’ is to enlist some help in avoiding use of the stairs. If you can survive without using them, this might be a good idea at first. Convert the sofa into a bed, move clothes and other items downstairs. It might be more convenient to wash standing up by the sink, than trying to climb into the shower.

If use of the stairs is unavoidable, try fitting hand grips in the stairwell by means of which you can push yourself up the steps and use them to support yourself on the way down whilst moving your leg as little as possible. Make sure you always have a mobile phone within arm’s reach. Carry it with you whenever possible in case you need help.

Your toilet arrangements will depend on how bad your injury is. If you’re using a bedpan, you’ll definitely need assistance. If you’re mobile to some extent but can’t bend your knee, support yourself by placing your hands on the wall or a secure fixture and allow yourself to fall onto the toilet seat. You can use the same technique to sit yourself down on a plastic seat in a shower cubicle, but remember to always be extremely careful when doing so.

Consume calcium-rich foods to promote bone healing when you are on your way to recovery. Don’t allow your nutritional intake to suffer. If you can’t get to the shops, see if you can use an online delivery service. If you can’t support yourself in the kitchen, don’t cook. Order something to be delivered until you can be confident using dangerous kitchen appliances.

Studies have shown that consumption of red meat actually encourages loss of calcium, so replace this with fish or fatty white meats. The same applies to coffee and other caffeinated drinks. Just have a frothy hot milk instead.

If you are promoted to use of a wheelchair, there are of course many home alterations you can have carried out in order to accommodate its use. If you expect to be wheelchair-bound for a long time, you might want to look into these. Even if you’re only expecting to have to use the wheelchair for a month or so, you would benefit from the use of a gripping tool – basically a long stick with a grip at one end which opens and closes, allowing the users to pick items up without risking falling out of the wheelchair. Be careful if you use this to take heavy items from high-up cupboards.

Once you are able to walk again, avoid strenuous exercise, especially running on hard surfaces. You’ll need time and exercise to help you rebuild the strength in your leg. Listen to your doctor’s advice. Many people benefit from the use of an elliptical trainer like this one at Indoor Ellipticals, which allows them to perform low-impact exercise to build up the strength and resistance in their legs. The circular exercising motion is much easier on the joints than a treadmill or many exercise bikes.

Once you are able to leave the house, be particularly careful to avoid slipping on kerbs or surface irregularities. Avoid running and if you feel any discomfort, stop immediately and find another way. If you are using crutches, be aware that there are many ignorant people who will expect you to make way for them. Don’t put yourself in danger as a result. If a dispute arises, most people and law enforcement will support an injured or disabled person’s right of way over an able bodied person.

Just as others will be patient with you, be patient with yourself and you will come back from your injury even stronger.