Maintaining Your Prosthesis in Spring Rain, Sleet, and Mud

wet weatherIf 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.  Continue reading “Maintaining Your Prosthesis in Spring Rain, Sleet, and Mud”

Why We Don’t Focus on the ‘Shiny Things’: It’s About People, Not Technology

prosthetics technologyAny prosthetics provider can access the same technology. The difference between providers is in what they do with that technology. The approach is critical.

Consider the differences between surgeons: they all have access to the same educational materials, the same technology, the same equipment, and the same types of hospital facilities. However, there can be enormous differences in a patient’s outcome when their surgery is performed by one surgeon versus another. Continue reading “Why We Don’t Focus on the ‘Shiny Things’: It’s About People, Not Technology”

Five Solutions to the Most Common Prosthetic Issues

As prosthetic technology continues to evolve, Next Step remains at the forefront of the industry. We pride ourselves on being able to provide the best available solutions to the amputees who come to us from all over the world. Still, even with the best technology and customer service, there is the potential for discomfort and other common issues associated with the prosthesis. Here are five things that amputees should keep in mind to ensure maximum comfort of their prosthetic limb: Continue reading “Five Solutions to the Most Common Prosthetic Issues”

5 Common Misconceptions about Amputees

We work with amputees of all ages, genders, social and economic levels, and activity levels. Some of them come to us after years of unsatisfactory treatment from other facilities, some come to us after a traumatic incident such as a motorcycle crash or act of war, and others come because of limb loss due to cancer, birth defect, or a disease such as diabetes. Most of our clients are local to New England, but some travel across the country or around the world to receive their medical care and treatment here. The point is that every person we treat has their own story, their own starting point, their own goals and aspirations, and their own unique set of circumstances that sets them apart.

In stressing that amputees cannot be placed into a category and assumed to share all of the same interests and characteristics, we wanted to address some common misconceptions that people have about amputees (and that many recent amputees have about their own future). So here goes: Continue reading “5 Common Misconceptions about Amputees”

Navigating Ice and Snow on Prosthetic Legs

Winter is tough, especially in New England. From November through early spring, we are faced with icy roads and walkways, piles of snow and slush, high winds, and ice-melting sand and salt; and we often find ourselves climbing over massive icy snowbanks to even reach the sidewalk. For amputees, these conditions can be far more than an inconvenience, they can be downright dangerous to navigate and damaging to expensive prosthetic equipment.

To avoid causing damage to equipment or risking a serious injury, there are several considerations that amputees should make when faced with less than desirable winter conditions. Just think, once you have a great feel for walking on ice and snow with your prosthesis, you’ll be one step closer to skiing, skating, or snowboarding on it!

1. Get a Grip

When the forecast calls for ice, snow, sleet, rain, or the melting of ice and snow, it is always advisable to wear boots, solid shoes or sneakers with excellent grip. Rubber soles are ideal, as are flats (sorry, this is one of those times when high heels are a very bad idea), and you want to be sure that your shoes are in excellent condition.

Ice cleats can be purchased at an outdoor gear store and can be strapped on to your shoes for improved resistance to sliding.

During the winter, we’d recommend keeping an extra pair of adequate footwear in your car or office for those times when Mother Nature decides to dump a foot of snow unexpectedly in the middle of the day.

Continue reading “Navigating Ice and Snow on Prosthetic Legs”

Amputee Mountain Biking – It’s a Cinch with the Right Fitting Prosthesis

Ever wanted to barrel down a mountain on a bike, navigating sharp turns with the wind in your face and the sun at your back? Ever think that it couldn’t happen, or it wouldn’t be much fun, because you have a prosthesis and wouldn’t be able to maneuver the bike well or your prosthetic limb might come loose?

Enter the world of high-tech prosthetic limbs and incredibly well-fitting sockets. For amputees who want to take on the world in their sports and activities, they have high standards, and higher demands, for the fit, feel, and capabilities of their limbs. They won’t accept anything holding them back from reaching that next goal, whether it be nailing a jump on a mountain bike, cornering a hairpin turn, or navigating rough and bumpy terrain for miles.

In order to give amputees the ability to perform at their best, it is absolutely imperative that their prosthetist provide them the best fitting socket and an advanced prosthesis that is capable of flexibility and high-function. The often-overlooked element in this scenario is the fit of the socket – this is the part of a prosthetist’s job that doesn’t make headlines or spur interesting cocktail-party conversations, but is the key to giving amputees the opportunity to reach their own goals – whether they involve high speeds, high jumps, or precise landings.

And who better to know what high-performance sports enthusiasts need from their prosthetic limbs than a prosthetist who is in the same situation, and has achieved Paralympic gold medal status for himself? Check out our own sports enthusiast, Jason, on the mountain bike trail below, and see what can be achieved:

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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.

The Difference a Well-Fitting Prosthesis Makes in Sports

In sports, the right equipment, and even more so, the best fitting equipment, can make all of the difference in the world. You can have the best soccer cleats, the best sneakers, or the best skates, but if they are too loose, you will wobble and fall; and if they are too tight, you will be constrained from performing at your absolute best.

For amputees, the issue of fit has a far greater impact on their potential ability than the scenarios above. If the socket on your prosthetic limb is not perfectly fit for your body, and for your activity level and lifestyle, it can substantially impact your performance in sports and activities, and can even lead to injury.

Some of the issues faced by  amputee athletes with ill-fitting prosthetic limbs include:

Discomfort & Irritation

Amputees who are very physically active are putting a tremendous amount of stress on their residual limb and socket. While less-active people may not notice much discomfort from a poor-fitting prosthesis, those who are running, skiing, biking, and competing in other activities may experience extreme discomfort and irritation, which may limit their level of activity, or at minimum, their enjoyment of it.

Fatigue

While it may not be immediately apparent, the additional energy a person has to use in order to overcompensate for an ill-fitting prosthesis by putting more pressure on their residual limb can be exhausting. And this fatigue can keep individuals from being able to participate to their best abilities in sports, or even to keep up with their teammates.

Injury

When you’re performing at your highest level, injuries are more likely to occur. And if your prosthetic limb does not support you perfectly, comfortably, and/or is not suitable for the activity you are performing, you could run the risk of it slipping away from you. If this were to occur while you were running, skating, skiing, or otherwise competing in a highly physical activity, it could cause serious injury.

If any of these scenarios are familiar to you, we encourage you to speak to a certified prosthetist about your activity levels, needs, and the issues you are experiencing. If you’d like to schedule a consult with one of our prosthetists, please contact us.

Want to see what you can accomplish with a well-fitting prosthesis? Check out this video: