Surfing – Amputees Making Waves in New England

Think there’s no good surf in New England? Think you need to be able-bodied to balance on a surfboard and ride crashing waves into the shore? Think again!

For the past 3 years, AmpSurf, an adaptive surfing clinic based in Southern California, has helped amputees break through the barrier of riding the waves at York Beach in southern Maine. Participants of all ages have enjoyed the incredible experience of balancing on a surfboard, either on one leg or with their prosthesis, and riding the swells a few hundred feet off-shore.

Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics’ Ian Gray, a prosthetist at our Newton MA location, has paved the way to expand these clinics into New England, and regularly teaches and practices surfing at the AmpSurf clinics scheduled each summer.

According to Ian, “surfing has been called the sport of kings from ancient Hawaii, and you can’t help but feel like a king or queen when you ride a wave. The ocean has the ability to heal in so many ways. The greatest part of adaptive surfing is we can adapt to any disability and get everyone in the water”. The program allows those who are brand new to the sport to learn basic techniques and adapt themselves to riding the surf; while more advanced surfers can challenge themselves to reaching new heights and improving their techniques.

For amputees, there are several options to consider when deciding whether to surf on a prosthetic limb or one leg:

  • Surfing with a prosthetic limb

    • Pros:
      • Easier to balance and maneuver on waves
      • Easier to lean left or right to direct the surfboard
    • Cons:
      • Water may damage mechanical components or hardware if the prosthesis is not waterproof.
      • If the prosthesis were to come loose in the water, it could be lost in the waves.
  • Surfing on one leg

    • Pros:
      • No need to worry about damaging or losing your prosthesis
      • Balancing improves core strength and endurance, thereby improving your overall physical health.
    • Cons:
      • More difficult to balance and maneuver on waves
      • More difficult to lean left or right to direct the surfboard

Recently, a new advancement in prosthetics, the X3 Waterproof Prosthesis, has allowed amputees the full ability to swim, surf, and enjoy the water while wearing their prosthesis, with no worries of damaging the hardware or components. Learn more about this waterproof prosthesis here.

Click here to reserve your space for the upcoming August 9-10 AmpSurf clinics at York Beach, ME; or learn more about AmpSurf and view the complete calendar of upcoming events on their website.

Waterproof Prosthetic Limbs

If you’ve ever wished that you could wear your prosthetic leg in the water, to surf, swim, water ski, or enjoy other summer sports, you may be interested in the waterproof X3 prosthesis, recently brought to market by Ottobock.

Next Step Bionics and Prosthetics clients Sean and Jack are a few of the first in southern New Hampshire to test the waterproof prosthetic leg, and their experiences have been incredibly positive. According to Jack: “[My legs] spent the afternoon in the pool!!! Love my legs. Here’s to a great summer; thanks again for helping me get the best, because with the best, I can do my best!!!!”

To learn more about the X3 Waterproof Prosthesis and determine whether it is a good fit for your lifestyle and budget (this is not usually considered medically necessary by insurance providers), contact Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics.

Stay up to date on advancements in prosthetics, upcoming events, and helpful resources by subscribing to our email newsletter or joining our Facebook community.

Swimming for Amputees: Avoiding Water Damage

Whether your idea of cooling off in the summer involves floating on ocean waves, jet skiing, swimming in the lake, or splashing around in the pool, you’ll want to know the best ways to ensure that you can enjoy those long summer days in the water without discomfort, and without damaging your prosthesis.

Throughout the summer, we want our clients to get the most out of each day and enjoy their activities to the fullest. During the shortest season of the year in New England, we understand just how important it is to be able to get the most out of every day, and keep appointments and to-do lists to a minimum.

Swimming is a wonderful activity to improve your overall health, increase endurance and stamina, and ease symptoms such as pressure sores that are associated with the daily stress put on residual limbs from the regular use of a prosthetic limb. Even an activity as simple as floating in the water relieves pressure, improves circulatory functions, and eases joint discomfort.

To get the most out of your time in the water this summer, here are a few important points to keep in mind:

  • Unless you have a waterproof prosthesis, avoid exposing your prosthesis to the water. Water can rust a prosthetic limb and can damage the sensitive mechanical components.*
  • For those without a waterproof prosthesis, the best way to spend time in the water is without your prosthetic limb. This also relieves pressure on your skin, muscles and joints.

A recent prosthetic advancement, the X3 Waterproof Prosthesis, has been developed to allow amputees the ability to enjoy the water while swimming, surfing, and participating in water activities while wearing their prosthesis, without damaging the hardware or components. Learn more about this waterproof prosthesis here.

*Some manufacturer’s warranties are voided if water damage causes your component to malfunction.

Combating the Challenges of Summer for Amputees

Ah, summer. Once the weather reaches up over 75 degrees, it’s hard to think of anything better than spending lazy days on the beach, at the lake, or by the pool. Or, for the more active among us, there may be nothing better than swimming laps or competing in a triathlon. To be sure you enjoy summer to its fullest, without discomfort, we’ve outlined a few adjustments you may wish to make as temperatures rise.

For amputees, summer activities, especially on the beach or in the water, can come with their own set of challenges. First, there is sand to contend with. Sand can easily sneak into the sensitive areas of prosthetic limbs, especially in the mechanical components, causing damage and decreased functionality. To avoid the potential for sand to sneak into these areas, it is important to cover your prosthesis with a socket cover, and be sure all mechanical areas are enclosed.

Other challenges that amputees contend with during the hot summer months are those that affect the body when temperatures rise. Amputees may experience swelling in their body which can affect the fit of their prosthesis throughout the day. To lessen this effect, it is important to discuss your planned summer activities with your prosthetist, and adjustments can be made to ensure your comfort and functionality in the most extreme temperatures. Amputees may also notice that as they sweat, their prosthesis may slip or chafe their skin. As with swelling, the effects of sweating can be lessened with some minor adjustments to your prosthesis; so be sure to discuss this with your prosthetist during fittings.

By scheduling regular appointments with your prosthetist and providing plenty of information about your planned activities and comfort, you’ll be sure to enjoy those long summer days to the fullest and get the most out of every activity.

To learn more about our unique approach to well-fitting prosthetics and our treatment of the whole person (lifestyle, body, mind, and emotional health), visit our website or request our email newsletter.