How do I travel with my prosthesis?

QUESTION:

I am a fairly new amputee and plan to take several trips this summer.  What should I know about traveling with a prosthesis?

Melissa C.

ANSWER:

Melissa,

Here are a few tips regarding the most commonly asked questions in terms of summer travel.

Sweat

Many prosthesis wearers find sweat in the summer months to be a frequent concern.  One way to help battle the sweat is to use an antiperspirant on your limb (e.g. Certain Dri has a roll-on version).  With antiperspirants, it is best to apply them at night so they have time to absorb into your skin.  Consistent use of them will also aid in decreasing your sweating over time.  Also, as you sweat, your limb could shrink in size over the day.  It may seem counterintuitive, but putting on extra prosthetic socks could help improve your comfort by tightening up the fit of the prosthesis to reduce pistoning and keep it more tightly secured on your limb.  It is also a good idea to take the prosthesis off a couple of times during the day to let your limb air out, and it would give you a chance to rinse out (using warm water and gentle soap) and towel dry your gel liner, or wipe off your sleeve.

Beach

Taking your prosthesis on the beach?  You may want to consider protecting the components by wrapping any exposed components with clear plastic wrap, or even better – using a waterproof cast sock (such as Xerosox).  If your prosthesis does get wet with salt or chlorinated water, rinse it with fresh water and then dry it completely with a towel.

Airplane 

If you are traveling by air, TSA has some rules for traveling with prostheses and other medical devices. Before you head to the airport, review TSA’s rules so you don't get any surprises at security!  Check here for traveling with prostheses and other medical devices:  https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures?field_disability_type_value=6%20

You can print out and fill in a TSA disability notification card to have ready to show the security officer, in order to help avoid unwanted delays:  https://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/disability_notification_card_508.pdf

Car

For those long car rides, you may be more comfortable taking your prosthesis off completely.  Never store your prosthesis in a hot car.

Prosthesis maintenance

Do a visual inspection of your prosthesis before you leave.  See any crack or tears in the liner or sleeve?  Feel any excessive motion or loose parts?  Or hear any strange sounds?  It is recommended that you schedule a routine maintenance check of your prosthesis before your vacation, to help prevent any problems that may occur while you are away.  If you have any concerns about your prosthesis following your trip, that is also a good time for a check-in with your prosthetist.

Thanks for your question! - Angie Bryl, CPO

Do you have a question you would like to Ask Us? Email us at info@dankmeyer.com.

 

How long does a prosthesis last?

Question:

How long does a prosthesis last? Carly W.

ANSWER:

Thanks for your question! The answer is not as straightforward as six months, one year, or five years. Fabrication and integrity-wise of the prosthesis, it can last for several years. However, the question of whether it continues to fit well and is still appropriate for you is different!

People with limb loss can expect their limbs to change for several years after their amputation. This includes shape change, reduction in size, increase in size, and changes in skin quality/appearance. So, even if your prosthesis is still in good condition, it may not fit well and may not be able to be adjusted to fit properly. Continuing to use a prosthesis that does not fit well may put you at risk for skin breakdown, pain, or change how you walk. We anticipate that your residual limb will change more quickly soon after your amputation, and over time these changes should become less dramatic.

As your limb shape becomes more stable, you may not need a replacement prosthesis as frequently. Your preparatory (often first) prosthesis may last you anywhere from six months to a year, but there are certainly people who use it for a shorter or longer period of time, it simply depends on how you are progresssing and how your limb is changing.

If you are not sure if your prosthesis is fitting well, or is still appropriate for you, schedule an appointment with your prosthetist to discuss options.

- Nina Bondre, Certified Prosthetist Orthotist

 Do you have a question you would like to Ask Us? Email us at info@dankmeyer.com.

I have a small open area on my ankle. What should I do?

Question:

I just received my new brace last week and now I have a small open area on my ankle. What should I do? Sally N.

ANSWER:

Getting a new orthosis or prosthesis is very exciting, but can also present some challenges as your body gets used to the new device. When you get a new device from us it is important to carefully follow the break-in schedule provided to you by your practitioner. Normally we will recommend breaking in your new device over 1-2 weeks until you can work up to a prescribed full-time wear. It can be tempting to wear the new device all day but to avoid causing problems, follow the break-in schedule closely! This can help to stop small problems from becoming big problems.

Something else to look for when using your new device after you have taken it off, is to see if there are any red areas on your skin. Some redness is OK and expected, but if the redness doesn't go away in about 30 minutes and remains, stop using the device and get in touch with our office to schedule a follow-up with your practitioner. 

If you have been following the break-in schedule carefully and monitoring your skin, but still have an open area or some skin breakdown occurs, we normally recommend you stop using your device and contact us for a follow-up appointment. If possible, take a picture so that we can track the problem area together after we make adjustments and as it heals. If your sensation is not completely intact, make sure you have a mirror so that you can inspect your skin visually from all angles if you are not able to feel an area that is rubbing or uncomfortable.

If you have an open area on your skin, do not ignore it, especially if you have circulation problems or diabetes. The area can get larger, or infected if not cared for properly, and this can set you back in achieving your rehabilitation goals. Taking a short break to let a small area heal is more effective and safer than having to take a long break to let a larger area heal. Keep the area covered if it opens up and do your best to keep pressure off of it. Oftentimes, taking a short break from using the device until the wound heals, having an adjustment made, and restarting the wear schedule will alleviate future problems in that area. 

- Nina Bondre, Certified Prosthetist Orthotist

 Do you have a question you would like to Ask Us? Email us at info@dankmeyer.com.

As a prosthesis wearer, why should I "Check My Foot"?

The start of spring is a good time to review this question…..

Question:

Why should I check my prosthetic foot, and how do I do that? - Carolyn M.

ANSWER:

After a mild winter, spring has arrived in full force. Many of us will start to become a little more active in the warmer months.  We are busy fertilizing yards and mowing grass, preparing our gardens or taking walks in the community.   This means we are on our feet a lot more frequently than in the colder months. 

Spring is a great time to “CHECK YOUR FEET”.    Our feet are our foundation, much like the foundation of a house.  If the house foundation is cracking and in poor condition, the building upon it will not hold up well.  Your prosthetic device is part of your walking foundation and it is a good idea to have your device checked out.

Prosthetic feet wear down from daily use.   Some feet are a completed design, meaning the inner mechanics are enclosed by a foam foot casing.  Other feet have foot shells and protective socks, which can be removed to inspect the carbon foot design.   When your foot begins to wear down, your walking pattern, or gait, may be affected.   You may also hear noises such as a metal “click” or “squeaking”.

Spring is an excellent time to schedule an appointment with your prosthetist.   We will inspect your prosthetic foot for signs of wear or damage and advise you of any recommended repairs or possible replacement.   Sometimes repairs may be completed on the same day you are seen or, may require us to order appropriate parts for your prosthesis.   Either way, it should help you start off your spring on the right foot, or possibly your left!!!

- Mary Reedy, Certified Prosthetist

 Do you have a question you would like to Ask Us? Email us at info@dankmeyer.com.

How do we know if the office is closed in wintry weather?

It is that time of year again, when we might face ice and snow!

QUESTION:

Now that winter is upon us, what is the best way to find out if one of your offices will be closed due to inclement weather?   - Ellie B  

ANSWER:

There are several ways to find out about our office closures due to inclement weather.  You can call our main office, 800-879-1245, to listen to a recorded message which will state if the office is on a delayed opening or is closed that day.  If you do not hear a message regarding office closure due to inclement weather, you can expect our offices will open at their regular 8:00 am time for all scheduled appointments.

Another option is to visit our website where any office closure information will be posted on our main page no later than 6:30AM that morning.   

You can also check out our Facebook page (check it out by clicking here) for posted office closure information.   

Should one or all of our offices be closed due to bad weather, we will call you as soon as possible to reschedule your appointment.

Please note, our offices will be closed on Monday, January 21, 2019 in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and on Presidents Day, February 18, 2019.

- Kristin Boswell, Director of Patient Services and Billing

Do you have a question you would like to Ask Us? Email us at info@dankmeyer.com.