Maintaining Your Prosthesis in Spring Rain, Sleet, and Mud
If you have a prosthetic limb, you know the challenges that come with daily wear under the best of circumstances. With the advent of spring, though, you and your prosthesis will be faced with weather of every sort – rain, snow and sleet, and, everyone’s favorite — the ever-present mud. What precautions should you take? Maintaining your prosthesis to ensure both you and your prosthetic limb will weather the weather is very doable. Whether or not you have a waterproof prosthesis, you don’t have to (nor should you) stay indoors; conquer whatever spring throws at you with a few simple steps:
Prosthetic socks are your best friend. Take good care of them, so they can take good care of you. Be aware of changes in limb volume due to weather conditions or exercise and be prepared to compensate (this blog post on summer activities provides additional tips). If your sock becomes soiled, excessively wet, or muddy don’t wait to change it and clean the socket.
Cleanliness is your best defense. It goes without saying (but we’ll say it), keeping you and your prosthetic limb dry and clean will not only ensure much greater comfort, but will prevent a whole host of potential issues. The residual limb is particularly susceptible to dampness from perspiration or environmental sources. Dampness can lead to odor, bacteria, and skin problems. You’ll want to clean your limb and socket every day after wear. For your limb, use mild soap, rinse thoroughly, and dry gently. If you use alcohol to clean the socket, be sure to follow with a damp towel to remove any traces and prevent contact with your skin. Clean any mud before it dries, paying special attention to the joint components (ankle or knee, i.e.). Check out this article for more good sock and hygiene tips.
Watch the weather. Weather conditions can change rapidly in the spring. Some of the same prosthetic “winter” navigation cautions apply (for more information on sure footing in unsure weather conditions, see this article).
Weather proof does not equal waterproof. Be sure you understand the moisture limits of your prosthesis. Weather proof means the prosthesis can handle being rained on, snowed on, etc. But only waterproof prostheses are meant to withstand submersion. Dunking a ‘weather proof’ prosthesis could damage it beyond repair, which may void the warranty. If you’re not sure of the limits of your prosthetic limb, please discuss this with your prosthetist.
As careful as you may be, issues happen. Your best ally is swift action. As soon as you notice any limb or prosthesis issues such as cracking or leaking, contact your prosthetist right away. That’s why they’re there.
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