No use found for used wooden crutches

One person managed to convert crutches into a useful stool

Getting rid of bedbugs is hard. So is giving away wooden crutches.

Recently I learned of an animal sanctuary that found itself in the perplexed possessors of 50 pairs of wooden crutches. These were no doubt donated by people with the best intentions to reuse and recycle only they failed to first check and ask if the sanctuary could use them.

How could an animal sanctuary use crutches? To splint broken legs of moose calves? Balance a robin with a dangling wing? These injured animals are not Walt Disney cartoon characters who mimic humans.

So I set about trying to free up scarce storage space at this sanctuary by locating a grateful recipient for at least a few if not all of these crutches.

My first inquiry should have been to Martha Stewart.

The most obvious prospect to come to my mind was the Red Cross Loan Cupboard in Prince George which supplies crutches, wheelchairs, and all sorts of health aids to loan cupboards throughout northern B.C., including the one at 4450 Greig Avenue in Terrace.

Prince George zeroed right in on two main hurdles – Were these crutches wooden or aluminum? And how would they transport these donated crutches to Prince George?

The Red Cross accepts only aluminum crutches which are easier to disinfect after use by each patient. A phone call settled that question. These crutches are wooden. The objection to wooden crutches stumps me. We rent bowling shoes previously worn by others. We haul home castoff sofas from garage sales and nap on them without a worry about germs we might inhale. Yet we can’t recycle wooden crutches. Bizarre to me.

I could have suggested an answer to the second question based on my previous experience finding sufficient seatbelts to outfit wheelchairs at the Terrace loan cupboard to meet safety specifications. In that case, extra seatbelts were transported from Prince George to Terrace on the Northern Health Connections bus. Surely crutches could travel similarly?

Terrace’s Salvation Army Thrift Store has a few pairs of wooden crutches on hand, but they, too, lack storage space for more. K’san House has a few pairs on hand left by residents who were treated in Emergency before arrival at K’san, although no one at the hospital could explain where the crutches might have originated.

Getting nowhere fast, I cast wildly about for solutions. Could a local sports group (hockey came to mind) stockpile a few of these to hand out when players limp off the ice? Would the local arena take a pair or two? Not likely. Not in the policy book.

The notion of shipping these crutches to a war torn land like Afghanistan or Iraq where land mines and roadside explosives have crippled many civilians, or to countries like Uganda where rebel forces have left a trail of one-legged citizens of all ages stumping about on whittled prosthetics seems a likely solution until you weigh the logistics of shipping, although this entire stock of crutches would fit neatly into the belly of any army equipment such as tanks Canada is sending to support government forces in the Middle East or elsewhere.

Giving up, I Googled “Used wooden crutches”. The best I could find were photographs of two home projects made from recycled crutches. One was of a teepee-shaped bookshelf with the crutches turned upside down to support shelves.

The other photo was of an attractive stool using the adjustable half of three crutches as legs screwed around the rim of a bicycle wheel.

For the seat, he padded and upholstered another bike wheel set on sturdy plywood.

The stool’s height easily adjusts.