Objective: Axillary crutches are simple rehabilitative devices that are globally used temporarily or permanently to assist in ambulation of patients and rarely present with complication. This report is about bilateral wrist drop incidentally noticed in a young adult patient mobilized on axillary crutches after internal fixation of a simple right tibia fracture.
Methods: The fracture was fixed by intramedullary nailing and the patient was mobilized on axillary crutches. At six weeks, patient fearfully refused to be commenced on partial weight bearing and at 12 weeks after surgery he was noticed to be totally weightbearing on the bars of the appropriately long axillary crutches and had developed bilateral wrist drop. There was radiological evidence of healing at the fracture sites. Treatment included mobilization on one elbow crutch on the left, physical therapy and nerve stimulation.
Results: At six weeks of physiotherapy, the power of the dorsiflexors of the wrists had recovered completely.
Conclusion: Bilateral posterior cord palsy of brachial plexus could occur even in young healthy patients but total recovery could occur if the diagnosis and treatment are prompt. Patients should be told in unequivocal terms not to weight bear directly on axillary bars.