As I was saying, I’ve been doing a fair bit of long walking. That means my forearm crutch as well as my body is getting some more wear. So in addition to modifying my grip with the Bionic arthritis glove, I modified the crutch with a Tornado Rain Tip. (This is where one-handedness is handy; the tips are sold in pairs, and so I have a spare.) I did this for two reasons: shock absorbency and tread. It was a good investment: the Millennial and the Tornado complement each other nicely.
The spring in the bottom of the crutch already dampens impact very well, but a little more protection can’t hurt; this is particularly true when I try to walk too quickly and/or stumble. I tense up worse and mismatch the rhythm between my arm and my gait, which can be jarring; the sidewalks around my apartment are shattered or bridged with board in places, and occasionally I misjudge the placement of my foot or stick. The big selling point of Tornado crutch tips is that they’re lined with gel to dampen the impact against the ground. They also flex to keep more contact with the ground. The Rain Tip is thick and has a wafer of ripple tread bonded to the bottom, like a slight boot sole. It’s holding up well, even while scuffed from tripping or skidding.
I can feel the tip flex a little as the crutch touches the ground; it’s possibly something like a heel-to-toe motion, with a bit of emphasis on the toe. In dry weather, the tread handles pavement and nubby concrete well. On wet pavement, the tread prevents me from slipping; I can actually feel it grip the ground. Wet floors are trickier, though still less slippery than they would otherwise be. The floor coming into where I work is marble, which might have something to do with it. The tile in my kitchen isn’t too bad; I haven’t fallen, at least. (And the tips do come with a caution that they’re fall-resistant, not fall-proof; life happens. But I like that caution better than ones that pretend the whole world is a level dry surface and PWD leave that imaginary place at their own risk.)
The Tornado allows the spring in the crutch to work better, I think. Since the tip is consistently in contact with the ground, I can apply consistent force to the crutch, which allows the spring to engage more. This is particularly evident — and useful — on ramps and curb cuts. There is a very steep cut going up on the way home. I need the spring to help me get my legs over it, and in order to do that I need ground contact. Perfect.
Pain and fatigue aside, I actually thought the other day that it’s a shame I have to be careful. Walking with the crutch seems to mitigate the spasticity in my legs, I think because I’m forced to measure my stride. It’s not gone, obviously, but they don’t seem to tense up so much with the stick. Maybe the stick lulls them — the stick has a more relaxed step than either of my legs ever did. I swing my right arm, and it’s like feeling another leg move through my hand. The spring goes down gently, the tip flexes, and when the spring comes up, it seems to nudge my right leg into the next step. On a good surface, there’s almost a rocking rhythm. Walking still wears me out, but not so quickly as it otherwise might.
I don’t think the Tornado alone would be enough shock absorption for me personally, which is why I say that the Tornado and the Millennial complement each other. The “subtitle” of the Millennial forearm crutch is In Motion, and accordingly, the main force behind my ability to walk somewhat longer comes from the ergonomics of the crutch itself. Without both the angled grip and the heavier impact absorption of the spring, I couldn’t use a stick much at all even if it had a Tornado on it. However, the Tornado does certainly augment that motion, and I think I’ll stick with it. (Pardon the unintentional pun.)