Tag Archives: Prosthetic Leg

Stepping Higher

Ten years ago, when I began my new life as an amputee, I devised a lengthy list of things to avoid. Creating this list, although probably not the healthiest approach to rehabilitation, kept me occupied during the painful recovery. As the surgical and emotional pain waned and I mastered living life with a prosthesis, the majority of my self-imposed limitations were quickly eradicated. I learned that living an UNlimited life with a disability was possible.

One of the self-imposed limitations involved ladders. The prospect of climbing a ladder, not my favorite task with two sound feet, became petrifying when I became an amputee.  Climbing high, relying upon foot placement while lacking proprioception, made me feel vulnerable. I detest feeling vulnerable!

Unfortunately, being a homeowner and a Mom was not conducive to a ban on heights. Light bulbs need to be changed, cabinet tops need to be dusted (granted not all that often) and toys need to be stowed out of reach. Perhaps more than feeling vulnerable, I despise feeling dependent. Having to wait for my husband to come home from work each time a simple height restricting chore needed to be done became frustrating. I knew that I had to figure out a way to complete these tasks unassisted, so one day I headed to our local home improvement store.

Traditional ladders, with narrow or rounded rungs, were immediately eliminated due to my phobic safety concerns. I wanted something with wide steps, but I needed it to be lightweight and easy to handle. Minimal storage space was appreciated but was not a high priority.

After looking through my options, I was delighted to find this Rubbermaid 3-Step folding step stool. The extra large steps eliminate the Imageworry about the position of my prosthesis. The step stool is sturdy and is highly portable. I was delighted to discover that its compact storage size allows me to keep it between my refrigerator and the wall!

This step-stool, although not nearly as high as a traditional ladder, allows me to safely and comfortably reach all light fixtures, cabinets and closet shelves. I love not having to ask for help to change a light bulb, and my husband appreciates having something removed from his honey-do list. This step stool is another tool which has helped me to become an UNlimiter!

Ready for Snow!

A chill is in the air and the leaves are turning beautiful hues of orange and gold. There is no doubt about it, I won’t be wearing my shorts and tank tops for several long months.  During the past few years my region has been relatively lucky in terms of ice and snow. Much to the chagrin of my little boy, we only had one substantial snow last year. Apparently this is a big bummer when you have a new sled to try out.

Meteorologists are already predicting that we will be receiving more snow and ice this year. Although I won’t count on it, I will admit that we are overdue for a hard winter. I know my little guy will be delighted if school is called off for snow. I can’t control possible snow accumulations, but I can be prepared!

Being a lower extremity amputee poses unique obstacles every season. In the summer many amputees complain of excessive sweating within their liners. In the spring and fall, slipping on wet leaves or nut shells poses a risk of falling. In the winter, the threat of snow and ice strikes fear into many lower extremity amputees. There is little more unnerving than trying to ambulate on a thin sheet of ice while wearing a prosthesis.

Slipping a prosthetic into winter boots is not always feasible. My prosthetic ankle is fixed, so trying to don a boot is both cumbersome and time consuming. I just don’t have a spare 30 minutes to try to put on a single boot.

fa620-yaktrax

Some amputees adapt by wearing a treaded boot on the sound foot while keeping their everyday shoe on the prosthetic. In addition to contributing to instability because of the differing heel heights, the lack of winter tread on the prosthetic side can lead to slipping and falling.  Although this approach works in a pinch, it is not a long term solution.A safer option is donning a pair of Yaktrax Walker Traction Cleats. The hand-wound coils on these cleats provide a full 360 degrees of traction on snow and ice. With each step the metal coils “bite” into the ice to provide stability and thwart slipping. The cleats are easy to slip over bottom of shoes and are quickly removed. The prosthetic does not need to be removed in order to don and remove these ice grippers.

Before the forecasts have  you are stocking up on milk, bread and toilet paper, you might want to consider picking up a pair of Yaktrax Walker cleats.  These ingenious little treads allow me to walk on the ice and snow safely. Because I know that my foot is not going to slip on the slick patches, I no longer stuck inside while everybody else is sledding.

Go Walk.

Unlike many of my friends who have Zappos bookmarked and love spending hours walking through DWS, I have never been a “shoe person.” Of course I buy shoes, but simply because it is more comfortable to keep my feet covered versus trying to make a fashion statement. I don’t coordinate my shoes to match an outfit (unless I am going to a wedding or funeral) because it is inconvenient to change shoes on my prosthesis. If I cared about fashion, I suppose it wouldn’t be an issue, but since I don’t care, it is nothing short of a hassle to pry the shoe off of a plastic foot shell and then try to wiggle another one in its place.

Even before my amputation I was not a shoe aficionado. Since I’ve become an amputee, my blase feelings towards footwear have only increased. I find shoe shopping an exercise in frustration. People inevitably stare when I whip off my leg so that I can have a better angle to wiggle on a new shoe. Although I typically smile through the process, I hate trying shoes on in public!  I tend to buy the same brand, style and size of shoe once I find a pair that is comfortable.

I have found Skechers to be the most comfortable and prosthetic friendly shoe for me. I like the stretch along the tongue, which allows easier access for my quasi-human shaped foot shell. I am particularly fond of Shape-Ups, not because of the toning benefits but because the shape of the sole allows me to roll over the toe of my prosthesis with ease. My gait is more natural with this little boost of assistance.

A few weeks ago I tried a new style of Skechers, the “Go Walk” shoe. My first impression was the weight of the shoe. This shoe is light, weighing in at only 4.5 ounces. By comparison, my Skechers DeLite shoe weighs 10 ounces. When wearing a prosthesis that weighs upwards of 7 pounds, any reduction in weight is greatly appreciated!  (Yes, I admit to digging through the abyss of my kitchen cupboard in order to find my scale so I could provide an accurate weight. I not only found the scale, but discovered a can of Spaghetti-Os that expired in 2009. I really need to clean out my cupboards!)

Impressed but not convinced by weight, I decided to try on the shoe . Wow, the stretchy material on the top of the shoe certainly made it easier to slip it onto my prosthesis. A few steps and I was sold! The bubble-like sole assists with the roll-over that I love from the Shape-Up shoe, without compromising heel height or comfort. Not only do I love how these shoes feel, but I like the way that they look.  Because of the simple lines, I can wear them with a skirt or with jeans.

I know that this sounds like a commercial for Skechers, but I assure you I am not compensated by the company. I am simply excited that I found something that is working so well for me. Every once in awhile I discover a new product that makes my life as an amputee easier. I know that others struggle with shoes and I think that the Go Walk shoe might be a solution. I have found that Skechers shoes have helped me become an Unlimiter in life!

Here is a brief video of me walking in the Shape-Up shoe:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfafnQ_Z1S8&w=500&h=281]

Sandals on a Prosthetic? My Easy Solution!

With the weather slowly warming, I finally took the plunge and moved the heavy sweaters into storage to make room for my more carefree (and less bulky) summer wardrobe. I love the fashion freedom that is found during the hotter months. Not having to contend with my pant leg becoming bound by in my prosthetic socket, creating an unsightly and many times uncomfortable crease, is liberating. Of course, dressing for summer is not without its issues.

In full disclosure, I was not much of a shoe connoisseur before I became an amputee. The fact that I am living without my biological leg and reliant upon a prosthesis has simply exacerbated my hatred of the shoe store. Trying to find a shoe that fits onto the plastic foot shell while its mate comfortably fits my biological foot is an exercise in frustration. Typically I stick with an athletic type shoe, but in the summer I like to wear sandals.

Finding the right sandal for a prosthesis offers another layer of confusion to the quest. Flip flops are immediately eliminated from the list of possibilities because the plastic toes are all molded together. I also lack the ability to grip the foot with my toes, so I need to make sure that I have another means of securing the shoe in place.

After years of shoe frustration I had an epiphany: VELCRO!

I bought industrial strength Velcro because I require the strongest hold between the foot shell and the bed of the sandal.  I would recommend paying the dollar extra for industrial strength in this situation.  After all, it is not only embarrassing, but also dangerous to walk out of your shoe.

Before applying the Velcro, I thoroughly scrub the foot shell with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to remove the stains and dirt that have accumulated during the winter.  (I have found the Magic Eraser to be the easiest and most efficient way to clean the plastic without causing discoloration.) After cleaning the bottom of the foot shell, I apply the soft side of the Velcro. I keep the Velcro on my foot shell permanently. It doesn’t interfere with socks and other shoes, so I have found no reason to remove it.

I feel compelled to offer one word of caution. Walking directly on the Velcro i.e. barefoot can increase the possibility of slipping. When walking without a shoe on a prosthetic foot, walk with caution. I have tile floors in my kitchen which, when clean, tend to be quite slick against the Velcro.

I put the hook side of the Velcro (the rough side) on the inside of the sandal I want to wear. I use two pieces, one up towards the toe and one close to heel. After placing the shoe onto the foot shell and pressing firmly, I am ready to go!

I was initially unnerved by the “ripping” sounds I heard as I took my first few steps. It can be annoying, but it goes away after you walk for a few minutes. So go ahead, paint those toenails and wear cute sandals. Just don’t forget the Velcro!

Real Time Web Analytics