Mobility aid review: MTip crutch tip

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve come to think of crutch tips as shoes, since the stick parallels the leg; this is particularly true for people who use two crutches and/or swing through. But while it’s easier to find shoes according to purpose or terrain, the variety in crutch tips is a bit smaller. So when I was offered Moterum’s MTips to try, I was interested to see how it compared to the Tornado. My setup:

One Millennial forearm crutch (anatomical handle, spring-loaded leg, 3″ cuff) with MTip
Bionic multitask arthritis glove with padded fingers and silicone palm

The first thing you notice is the shape; instead of being round, it’s long and curved at the bottom. It’s a bit sneaker-like. You can have it facing one of two ways: with the longer end facing away from your handle or parallel to it. I put a lot of emphasis on my heel when I walk, and since I walk with most of my weight on my right side, I’m hard on the heels of my shoes. This includes my stick, so I put the tip on with the longer end facing away so I’d have more heel surface. NOTE: Be aware that you might have to stomp your stick a few times to secure the tip; otherwise it will flop around a little. Also, if you want to remove the tip and try a different orientation, the shape could make that a little harder if you have problems with your hands. And speaking of hands…

Reducing impact against the ground remains critical to keeping my hand functioning, hence my multiple anti-shock methods. Fortunately, the MTip doesn’t interfere with the working of the spring. Unfortunately, and unlike round tips, you need to strike the ground at the center of the tip for the spring to compress.

Compared to the Tornado, the impact is a little harder and my stick clacks a little louder. But here’s where the shape comes in. Since the tip is curved, it forces a heel-toe motion; it rocks forward when it hits the ground, and your arm follows that motion at the shoulder. So the impact is mitigated somewhat, because you’re literally rolling with it. (Again, though, how well it works depends on the nature of your swing.) If you can talk about ergonomic crutch tips like ergonomic keyboards, you could call the MTip one. It reminds me of how Sidestix sells rotating attachments for their crutches for that reason, but the MTip could give some of that motion to any crutch that fits, which could be a nice compromise for people who can’t afford or can’t use Sidestix.

NOTE: I personally would not attempt stairs with this, so I can’t tell you how that works. I can go down the stairs in my apartment fine with the Tornado one step at a time, but I wasn’t sure about placing the MTip because of its shape and, more importantly, the momentum that the rocking motion might create. I’m not adventurous that way. Also, I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to use it in snow or slush (which the Tornado handles as well as possible) for the same reason.

Unfortunately, talking about impact and budget leads me to a caution. My Tornado Rain tips can last me six months to a year each, especially if I turn them periodically so the tread wears evenly. (Another way one handedness is handy–spares.) The tread does wear, of course, but it takes months. The last two Vs of tread on the MTip’s heel were gone in two days; the rubber is softer, I think. I do walk quite a bit on concrete. This may not be a problem depending on how you distribute your weight, but if you’re hard on your shoes like I am, the possibility of more frequent replacement might be a concern.

If you wanted to stretch the MTips longer, perhaps you could think of them as shoes. Tornado tips are like boots; perhaps MTips are more like sneakers. If they work for you, perhaps they could last longer if, like shoes, they were alternated according to purpose rather than being the everyday shoe. (This would, however, require having multiple shoes, which may be hard on the budget also.)

I’d been worried the MTip would be gimmicky–a lot of mobility aid proposals are–but walking with it felt interesting and surprisingly painless (after an initial soreness due to different impact levels and occasionallly missing the “spring spot”). If durability isn’t a concern, they might be worth checking out.

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