Tag Archives: Prosthetic Limb

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!

An Inexpensive Beach Insurance

In the next few days our family will be packing up and heading out on vacation. Robby, my seven year old son, is ecstatic to be going to the beach. He’s looking forward to spending his days playing in the surf, building sand castles and eating ice cream. With a little planning, I’ll be able to do the same!

Wearing a prosthesis to the beach can be a daunting tasks. Sand and salt have a way of wreaking havoc on mechanical components. Considering that a basic prosthesis can cost upwards of $15,000, protecting it from the beachy elements becomes of paramount importance.

There are a variety of waterproof prosthetic protectors on the market. I have found most to be cumbersome to don and quick to rip. A waterproof protector is of little use when a huge hole develops during it’s first use. After a lot of experimentation and trial and error, I have discovered a protector that is both easy to wear and durable. The Medline Curad Cast Protector provides an excellent barrier between my carbon fiber prosthesis and the sand and surf.  It is comfortable to wear, and doesn’t require tape or acrobatic feats to don. As an added bonus, at less than $2 I don’t mind throwing it away at the end of our vacation!

Protecting the components is only part of the battle when it comes to ocean fun. The waves have a reputation of stealing, and prosthetics are not immune. I have heard too many horror stories about legs being pulled off by the undercurrent and swept out to sea. I can’t imagine anything ruining a vacation quicker than losing my leg in the ocean!

Thankfully necessity is the mother of invention, and there is an easy (and inexpensive) way to insure your prosthesis against theft by wave. A surfer’s bungee cord, hooked around the ankle and secured to the waist, will ensure that your device is always tethered to the body. If the waves do break the suspension seal, the prosthesis will not be swept away.

With my prosthesis properly protected and ready for the surf, I turn my attention to my biological foot. I am vigilant about foot care! Because I bear the majority of my weight on my biological foot, the smallest blister or cut can become bothersome. Not wanting to take undo chances, I always wear a water shoe in the ocean. I feel more comfortable having a barrier between my skin and the sharp shells, small animals and rocks that are strewn on the ocean floor.

Between my cast cover, the bungee cord and my one water shoe, I’m sure I’m quite the sight! But I’ve learned to not be bothered by appearances, and I know that I am being proactive about maintaining a functional prosthesis. I’m not about to let anything get in my way of fun with my family, especially my disability!

At UNlimiters, we’re always looking for products that help us live more independent and easier lives. Have you found a product that has improved your life? Let us know in the Shout section of our store and we’ll try to add it to our selection.

 

A Sticky Situation– Solved!

The rising temperatures have been a wonderful change after the long winter. Although the winter was not especially harsh in my area, the anticipation of sunshine and warm days is alluring. Unfortunately, warm weather poses a unique problem for the amputee. I have found this to be a nearly universal issue among amputees, yet many remain shy about discussing the problem.  Thankfully, I’m not known for being shy!

I’m talking about sweat.  The sweaty residual limb is most prominent on hot summer days, or after exercise. It was not unusual for me to have to remove my prosthesis several times a day so that I could wipe down my limb and pour the copious amounts of sweat that has pooled at the bottom of my liner. It is disgusting!

Keeping the limb dry is paramount to maintain both comfort and limb health. If my limb becomes too saturated, my suspension system is compromised and walking is unsafe. Keeping my limb in a dirty, dark and wet environment creates a perfect breeding ground for infection to invade the delicate skin. After some consultations with my prosthetist and numerous discussions with my amputee friends, I began to experiment. I was not terribly optimistic that I would find a remedy for my sweaty limb, but I was hopeful that I would figure out how to keep the sweating to a minimal.

I discovered that spraying the residual limb with antiperspirant spray yielded fantastic results. Roll-on and stick antiperspirants were difficult and cumbersome to apply. For me, Certain-Dri and Secret Platinum have proven to be the most effective against combating the problem. For optimum protection, I recommend thoroughly spraying the limb with two complete applications.

When spraying the residual limb, it is most beneficial if you spray the entire area that is covered by the liner and prosthetic. If one small spot is not covered, the sweat will funnel through. It is also advantageous to allow the antiperspirant spray to thoroughly dry after each application before donning the liner.

When the entire body is sweating, below knee amputees are prone to having the sweat roll down the thigh and into the liner. In this case, the cause of the puddle within the liner is not from the limb but from the leg above the treated area. It may be helpful to place a fabric headband at the location where the top of the liner meets the thigh. The headband will absorb the perspiration and keep the liquid from pooling within the liner.

Antiperspirant works not only to reduce sweating on an amputee’s residual limb, but also is beneficial for those who wear orthopedic braces and splints. Anytime your body is covered and heat is added, sweat will develop. I have found that keeping dry helps to increase my comfort on oppressively hot days.

Because the skin is covered with a chemical, it is important to thoroughly wash off the antiperspirant each night. After all, the skin cells need to breath. I have discovered that if I take a little preventative action against sweating, removing my prosthesis in the evening is not nearly as disgusting.

Have you found any remedies for avoiding a sweaty residual limb? We’d love to know what you do!

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