Thirty-eight years ago, a drunk driver hit teenager Sarah Doherty while she was riding her bicycle. She lost her right leg in the accident. An avid athlete, she continued to participate in sports after her recovery, became an occupational therapist, and began adapting rock climbing gear for her own use. That ultimately led to her and her partner Kerith Perreur-Lloyd inventing SideStix, which are forearm crutches designed for active users - like Sarah.
There are several features that reportedly make the crutches well-suited to demanding use.
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For one thing, they each feature an internal shock absorber, so that each strike against the ground doesn't entirely radiate up into the user's hands and arms. Additionally, the arm cuffs are padded to prevent chafing, while ergonomically designed hand grips provide maximum support. The angles incorporated into the design of the crutches also put the arms and wrists in a neutral position.
Perhaps most interestingly, SideStix feature rotating, articulating feet. This means that the foot of each crutch will remain flat against the ground throughout an entire stride, or when gripping a slanted surface - the feature is also said to reduce torque in the user's shoulder joints.
For specific activities, there are a number of interchangeable foot types available - the snowshoe and sandshoe feet spread the user's weight more evenly on soft surfaces, for instance, while the ice pick (!) feet feature a stainless steel spike in the middle, surrounded by a Vibram rubber sole.
The Canadian-made Sidestix themselves are available in four models, ranging from the all-aluminum Discovery model to the partially carbon fiber Boundless PRO. Prices range from CAD$647 to $847 (US$624 to $816).View gallery - 5 images