PROSTHETIC Leg & PROSTHETIC Foot
If you have a lower extremity amputation, a prosthetic may be an instrumental tool in regaining your mobility. There are many different kinds of lower extremity prosthetics, each suited to a different type of amputee. Read on to learn about the types of prosthetics, how to wear a prosthesis, and how to care for your prostheses and residual limb.
Types of Lower Extremity Amputations
There are four main types of lower extremity amputations that result in the need for a prosthetic leg.
1. Above knee amputation
Also known as a transfemoral amputation, above-the-knee amputations occur at the knee joint or between the knee and hip. A transfemoral prosthesis includes moving joints and pylons to mimic the thigh, calf, and joints in the knee, ankle, and foot.
2. Hip disarticulation
If you have a hip disarticulation or transpelvic amputation, your prosthetic leg will have to simulate the hip, knee, and ankle joints. While such prostheses generally take longer to get used to, a good prosthetist can help you successfully wear your transpelvic prosthesis throughout your daily life.
3. Below knee amputation
Also known as a transtibial amputation, below-the-knee amputations are performed between the joints of the ankle and knee. A transtibial prosthetic has movable joints and pylons to best imitate a human calf, ankle, and foot.
4. Ankle disarticulation
Also known as a Syme’s amputation, ankle disarticulation involves the removal of the foot through the ankle joint, including the malleoli. There are many prosthetic feet on the market, including the solid ankle cushion heel (SACH), single axis, energy storage, and multi-axial. More advanced foot orthotics include feet with hydraulic ankles, adjustable heel height, and motorized ankles.
Wearing Your Prosthesis
Prosthetic leg options include an exoskeletal prosthesis (which is harder but more durable) and an endoskeletal prosthesis (which is lighter and more suited to active lifestyles). Knee options include a variety of prosthetic joints with a range of prices and functionality. Once you have been fitted with the prosthesis that best suits your lifestyle, it is time to start the process of wearing (aka donning) your prosthesis.
Your prosthetist can show you the best way to don your prosthesis and recommend any additional products that can make wearing your prosthesis more comfortable. You must follow all of the instructions from your prosthetist regarding the use of pull socks, powders, and liners. When you don your prosthesis, it is essential to make sure that there are no wrinkles on the surface of your residual limb. Wearing your prosthetic on top of wrinkled skin can result in skin damage.
Based on your lifestyle and circumstances, your prosthetist will create a schedule for you. This schedule will gradually increase the time you spend wearing your prosthesis, from just a few hours a day to all-day wear. It is critical that you do not rush your progress as moving too fast can cause skin damage and soreness. Wearing your prosthesis for the recommended amount of time can help you progress without complications.
You can make your transition to full-time prosthesis wearing less stressful by following a few simple tips.
- Follow the schedule set by your prosthetist.
- Don’t be shy about asking questions.
- When your prosthesis is off, always wear your shrinker or an ACE bandage over your residual limb.
- When first wearing your prosthesis, it is important to slowly increase the amount of weight being held by your prosthetic. You can use a crutch or cane when learning to wear a prosthetic leg.
- Stay active even without your prosthesis. An active lifestyle is vital for both your physical and mental wellness.
- Regularly check your prosthesis for any signs of problems. If you notice that your prosthesis is squeaking, clicking, or is cracked, talk to your prosthetist right away.
- Check your residual limb daily for signs of excessive redness, pain, swelling, or shrinkage. Newly amputated limbs often shrink in size. A simple adjustment by your prosthetist can prevent permanent residual limb damage and help you be more comfortable and active.
- Use your prosthetic socks or gel liners as instructed. Prosthetic socks or gel liners will protect your residual limb from wear and damage. You can easily improve the comfort and fit of your prosthesis by adjusting the thickness and/or the number of socks you wear.
Care For Your Residual Limb
A big part of successful prosthetic use is caring for your residual limb. Residual limbs can sweat and smell, especially in the early stages. Over time, your residual limb will adjust to the prosthesis, and perspiration will decrease. You can reduce sweating by using baking soda, antiperspirants, and by changing your prosthetic socks several times a day.
After you remove your prosthesis, you should always clean your residual limb. Use mild, anti-bacterial soap when you clean your limb and allow your limb to dry completely. Avoid soaking, shaving, and moisturizing your residual limb. After cleaning, check both your residual limb and your good limb for injuries, blisters, or new/worsening pain. This daily check is especially important if you suffer from a disease such as diabetes.
Care For Your Prosthesis
Your prosthesis is a high-tech tool that can help you resume activity, become more mobile, and regain your independence. As a mechanical appliance, your prosthesis will need regular maintenance and/or repair to keep it working at its best. Your prosthesis should be cleaned daily. After removing your prosthesis, use alcohol or a mild detergent to clean out your prosthetic socket. You should also clean your prosthetic socks and sheaths per manufacturer’s directions.
When Should I See My Prosthetist?
As a general rule, you should visit your prosthetist yearly for a checkup. Regular checkups will ensure that you stay comfortable and active with your prosthesis for years to come. You should visit your prosthetist right away if your prosthesis is unbearably painful. If you have pain that is mild but persists despite changing socks and liners, check in with your prosthetist for an adjustment.
The long road back after amputation doesn’t have to be walked alone. Contact the experienced and professional team at Scheck & Siress. We are dedicated to helping you achieve your mobility goals.