What to Do When People Stare at Your Prosthesis

Posted on: February 7th, 2018 by FloydBrace Blogger

Getting used to your new appearance as an amputee can be a long, difficult process. It doesn’t help when your prosthetic limb draws the stares of complete strangers. Today, we’d like to offer some tips on how to deal with that sort of attention from strangers:

  • Don’t take it personally.

 

Most people probably aren’t staring because they think you’re some kind of freakishly deformed monster. Rather, it’s human nature to gaze at something that is unusual or out of the ordinary from what they normally see.

 

  • You are in control of yourself.

 

We’re all familiar with the prayer about learning to change what we can and accept what we cannot. The same goes when it comes to other peoples’ behavior. You cannot control their staring, but you can control your reaction to it, as well as whether or not you allow it to bother you.

 

  • Have a response ready.

 

If the staring is obvious or invasive enough, you can deflect it by having a ready response. For example, you could acknowledge the stare with a “Yeah, 2015 was a rough year.” This lets them know that you know they’re staring, and can help shut down an unwanted gaze. Another strategy is to use humor, “I’m still waiting for it to grow back. I suspect that I may not be part gecko after all!”

 

  • Stare back.

 

If engaging someone in conversation is too uncomfortable, you can always give them a smaller acknowledgment by locking eyes and giving them a friendly smile. They may not realize they’re being rude, and drawing attention to their behavior could be enough for them to break the gaze.

 

  • Do nothing.

 

You’re not obligated to cater to someone’s curiosity or lack of manners. It’s perfectly acceptable to pretend that you don’t see their stares and continue about your business.

 

Getting used to your prosthesis is going to take some time, and coping with attention from strangers is a part of that. Fortunately, you are not alone. There are peer networks of amputees that can help you navigate this new world. Our prosthetists are also here for you every step of the way. Why not make an appointment with us today?

Playing Hockey as an Amputee

Posted on: January 26th, 2018 by FloydBrace Blogger

If you were on a sports team prior to your amputation, chances are you’re looking for a way to be involved with one again. Hockey in particular offers a couple different options for amputees to participate in. There are two types that you can enjoy—sledge hockey and standing hockey.

Sledge Hockey.

Officially knowns as para ice hockey, this sport allows lower-limb amputees to navigate the ice on a sledge. This sledge is made up of two skate blades on a metal frame, which allows the player to maintain a maneuverable sitting position.

This sport is officially recognized and governed by the International Paralympic Committee. A number of cities throughout the United States have sledge hockey teams, so this can also be a great way to meet fellow amputees in your area.

Standing Hockey.

This version of the sport is played more like regular hockey. Players are upright and wear ice skates at the bottom of their prostheses. Some incorporate their equipment into their prosthesis, such as affixing the stick the end of an upper-limb prosthesis or a skate at the bottom of a lower-limb prosthesis. If you have a microprocessor knee, we may even be able to adjust it for you so that it locks out at certain angles.

Getting involved.                                                                                    

If you’re looking to become involved in a local amputee hockey team, don’t hesitate to ask your friendly prosthetists at Floyd Brace! We can help you contact the team closest to you.

Another great resource is the Find a Club section of the U.S. Paralympics website. By typing in the name of the sport you wish to join, it will bring up the team closest to you.

Here at Floyd Brace, we know that once a hockey player, always a hockey player! If you’re planning to join an adaptive sport this winter, make an appointment  with us today. We want to ensure that your prosthesis is in tip-top shape before you hit the ice!

5 Ways to Maintain a Comfortable Prosthesis Fit

Posted on: January 8th, 2018 by FloydBrace Blogger

There are some days when you wake up and it’s just miserable to put on your prosthesis. It doesn’t want to fit right or it’s itchy or it pinches horribly.

There are a few things you can do to prevent an uncomfortable prosthesis fit, including:

  • Good Hygiene.

 

Certain socket designs can increase the likelihood that you’ll sweat in your prosthesis. If you’re not wiping it down on a daily basis, you run the risk of a fungus outbreak. Make sure you’re using PH-friendly soaps and all-natural lotion. If you do use an antiperspirant, avoid the scented kind.

 

  • Maintain a steady weight.

 

Changes in weight are one of the top reasons why prostheses stop fitting as they should. Remember, you prosthesis doesn’t change shape just because you do. Make sure you’re eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

 

  • Stay compliant with physical therapy.

 

Getting physical therapy early on can ensure that you’re catching any issues quickly. Make sure that you continue to practice the stretches and exercises your physical therapist showed you at the beginning of your prosthesis journey. Otherwise, you could lapse into bad habits that lead to a poor prosthesis fit.

 

  • Switching out your socks at the right time.

 

There’s no one formula for when you should add or take away socks throughout the day. Each person is different, and each day is different. Make sure you carry extra socks with you throughout the day to make sure it continues to fit comfortably.

 

  • Talk to your prosthetist.

 

You should see your prosthetist once every six months, even if you don’t think you need to. Small adjustments to your prosthesis can make a big difference in your comfort level. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t try and fix it on your own.

We pride ourselves on providing the most comfortable solutions to all our amputees. If your prosthesis isn’t fitting correctly, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with us today. We can help you detect what may be causing the discomfort and work with you to resolve it.

3 Reasons Why You May Need a Custom Orthoses

Posted on: December 23rd, 2017 by FloydBrace Blogger

While there are plenty of places where you can buy an off-the-shelf brace, there are certain conditions that require a specific customization in order for you to fully recover. Here are a few of the more common ones that we tend to treat:

  • Foot Drop.

 

This is when you have difficulty lifting your foot, to the point that you can’t move forward on it. There are a number of different medical reasons for why foot drop can develop, including stroke, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and a range of different nerve disorders.

 

To treat foot drop, we usually craft what’s known as an ankle foot orthosis, or AFO for short. This consists of placing a supporting piece on the bottom of the foot and then connecting straps around the ankle, allowing the user to walk in a normal position.

 

 

It’s estimated that three percent of the population will develop this condition. It causes the spine to be bent or curved in a bad direction. If it’s especially severe or not caught early enough, some people have to go through surgery.

 

Luckily, an orthosis can usually correct the issue, especially if it’s worn early enough. There are three main types of scoliosis braces, and which one you have is dependent on the type of curvature you have. The Boston and Milwaukee braces are worn around the clock (except when bathing), while the Charleston is just worn at night. Each one consists of a rigid plastic exterior customized to your frame.

 

  • Bone Fracture.

 

If you’ve broken a bone, chances are, you may need to protect the area for a while after the cast is removed. Excessive motion could cause the bone to fracture all over again.

 

What kind of fracture brace you get depends on the shape of your body, which bone you broke and where you broke it. Generally, we will craft something custom for you out of graphite, metal or even fabric straps so you can remove and adjust is as needed.

 

This is just a sample of the custom orthoses that we do here. There are many other conditions we can treat, including torticollis, plagiocephaly, cerebral palsy, Legg Perthes and more. If your bones, nerves, ligaments and muscles need that extra help, contact us today for an appointment!

5 Things To Do Before Undergoing Amputation

Posted on: December 16th, 2017 by FloydBrace Blogger

Undergoing an amputation represents a major change in life. There’s a lot that you will need to prep for both before and after. We’re here to help you before and after the amputation happens. Here are some things to make sure you take care of ahead of time:

  • Ask as many questions as possible

You deserve to go into this life-altering situation with as much peace of mind as possible. Don’t hesitate to ask questions of all the healthcare professionals involved—from your physician to your surgeon to your prosthetist. Don’t be afraid to seek out a second opinion, and don’t be afraid to ask what to expect at each interval in the process.

  • Take care of finances

There are many expenses associated with amputation. Make sure you know what your insurance covers and what you will be expected to pay. Take care of as much paperwork as possible so that it doesn’t consume your attention while you’re trying to recover.

  • Gain a second option

Find out what your care will be like at different facilities, and make sure you are comfortable working with the personnel there before you commit to undergo surgery. Find out what your options are—from the surgeon to the prosthesis you will use afterwards.

  • Take care of your emotional health

Amputation represents a major loss in life, and you will grieve. Seek out a counselor who can help you sort through the feelings you will experience afterwards.

  • Take care of your loved ones

Don’t hesitate to reach out to those who are closest to you during this ordeal. They will want to know how you are doing, what you are going through and if there is anything they can do to help.

We understand how difficult it is to face the prospect of amputation. That is why our caring staff is here for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us with any questions or concerns.

8 Ways to Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer

Posted on: October 13th, 2017 by FloydBrace Blogger

Approximately one out of every eight women will develop invasive breast cancer during her life. While there is no way to completely eliminate your chances of getting cancer, there are some things women can do to decrease their risk:

 

 

We’ve all heard that “breast is best” for baby, but it has added benefits for mom as well. By breastfeeding your infant, you also decrease your risk for cancer.

 

  • Cut back on alcohol intake.

 

The American Cancer Society states that women who have two to five drink a day have 1.5 times the risk of developing breast cancer than women who don’t drink at all. Drinking can increase your chances of developing other cancers as well.

 

  • Increase your physical activity.

 

Evidence shows that regular, moderate exercise can decrease a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer by up to 18 percent.

 

  • Keep a healthy weight after menopause.

 

Prior to menopause, most of women’s estrogen comes from their ovaries, while a small amount comes from fat tissue. That ratio flips after menopause, enabling a higher concentration of fatty tissue to increase estrogen levels, further raising the risk of breast cancer. Being overweight can also add to insulin levels, which is linked to a higher risk of cancer.

 

  • Don’t smoke.

 

There’s now evidence that smoking increases the risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women.

 

  • Limit hormone therapy.

 

It’s common for women to receive hormone therapy in order to control the symptoms of menopause. However, higher doses over long periods of time can increase the risk of breast cancer. The Mayo Clinic recommends that women take the lowest dose possible and ask their doctor to monitor the length of time they are on hormone supplements.

 

  • Avoid radiation.

 

Computerized tomography and other medical-imaging methods use a large amount of radiation. There are some cases where it is vital to have these tests done, but if a woman is already at a high risk of developing breast cancer, she might want to ask her doctor about alternatives.

 

  • Eat a Mediterranean diet.

 

Healthy eating is good for you in general, and some of the foods found in Mediterranean diets are associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. These include extra-virgin olive oil, fish and nuts.

 

While there is no sure-fire way to completely eliminate your risk, following these steps can possibly reduce your chances of developing this condition. At Floyd Brace Company, we are here for you and all your prosthetic needs.

Tips to Taking Care of Your Liner And Socket.

Posted on: October 6th, 2017 by FloydBrace Blogger

Maintaining good liner and socket hygiene is essential to extending the life of your prosthetic device. Since your prosthesis is now an extension of your body, you’ll want to ensure its upkeep on a daily basis. Floyd Brace Company is here with some tips on how take care of the liner and socket:

  • Clean it daily.

 

You wash your hands every day. Likewise, the parts of your liner that come into contact with your skin need to be cleaned daily. Use warm, soapy water to wash away any skin oils, sweat or dead skin that build up over time. Not only will this extend the life of your liner, it will also keep the skin on your residual limb from breaking down. Remember not to use any alcohol-based cleaners, as these can extensively damage your liner.

 

  • Don’t make adjustments to your socket.

 

If your socket feels “off” it may be tempting to try and adjust it yourself. However, you may do more harm than you realize. Tightening the wrong screw could damage your socket, putting you in danger of a malfunction. Be sure to call us right away if you think your prosthesis needs an adjustment.

 

  • Don’t swim with your prosthesis

 

While the liner can absorb sweat just fine, most prostheses were not meant to be fully submerged in water. This is especially true if you are using myoelectric technology. Floyd Brace Company can craft a prosthesis for you specifically for swimming, so give us a call if you’re interested in having one.

 

  • Give it a quick once over each day.

 

Examine your liner and socket for any cracks or signs of breakage. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment if you see potential problems. When it comes to prostheses, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

At Floyd Brace Company, we understand there’s a learning curve when it comes to using a prosthesis. Our team is prepared to answer any of your concerns, and can help you continue the activities you enjoy. Make an appointment with us today, and see how we can help you live the life you’ve always dreamed.

Tips to Treating Phantom Limb Pain

Posted on: September 22nd, 2017 by FloydBrace Blogger

Phantom limb pain is thought to be caused by mixed signals from your brain or spinal cord. There is no one way to treat the condition, so finding what works best for you is how you’ll solve your discomfort. These useful treatments have been known to help others, so we hope you will find one or a combination that will help you live more comfortably.

  1. Medication

Acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, beta-blockers, and muscle relaxants have been shown to help with different kinds of pain sensations. Speak with a doctor to see what is best for you.

  1. Acupuncture

 

By having a professional place needles into certain points on your scalp, pain can be relieved instantly. Acupuncture stimulates specific anatomic sites that promote the natural self-healing process of the body. Over time, patients have been known to be completely free of phantom limb pain.

 

  1. Mirror Therapy

By placing a mirror opposite of your existing arm or leg and hiding your residual limb, your brain can be tricked into thinking that both limbs are still present. This can help reduce pain that your brain is sending to your residual limb.

  1. Virtual Reality

 

Some virtual reality can be used to trick the brain into thinking that there is still another limb present. By seeing another limb instead of the residual limb, pain signals that are being sent can be stopped.

 

  1. Massage

 

Massaging the residual limb can reduce pain caused by phantom limb signals. By looking up pressure points and what areas to massage online, you can live more comfortably.

 

  1. TENS

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is the use of an electric current produced by a device in order to stimulate the nerves of your residual limb. The intensity of the pulse can help remind your brain that where your residual limb ends, is where your entire limb ends too.

It’s important to remember that these sensations generally improve over time and that there are many treatments available so it does not take over your life. Work closely with your prosthetist, so you can begin to live at ease and enjoy life once again!

6 Times You Should Call a Prosthetist

Posted on: September 8th, 2017 by FloydBrace Blogger

You always have the right to call your prosthetist if something feels wrong, so never be afraid to ask even the simplest of questions! Here is a list of the most common times you should call your prosthetist.

  1. Skin Irritation

 

The area where the liner has direct contact with the skin can sometimes cause a rash, blister, or sore to develop. Allergic reactions, wrong liners, socket fit, and other issues can be the cause of this discomfort. It’s important to contact your prosthetist if irritation like this occurs, so you can be comfortable again!

 

  1. Falls

 

If your prosthesis causes you to fall, you must let your prosthetist know about the incident. Falling can cause your prosthesis to be thrown out of alignment or damage it. This also means that your body may be trying to tell you that your prosthesis is not fitting you correctly.

 

  1. Fluctuating Weight

 

Weight gain and loss can cause your residual limb to shrink in size, making your prosthesis fit incorrectly. Your prosthesis is meant to handle certain amounts of weight so the socket can evenly distribute it. Let your prosthetist know if you had a sudden change in weight, so they can check to see if you need a different prosthesis.

 

  1. Limb Pain

 

Pain is your body trying to tell you that something is wrong. If you are feeling discomfort, your prosthetist can normally fix that through a socket fit or alignment. Do not ignore your limb if it is hurting because that could lead to more serious complications.

 

  1. Prosthesis Check Ups

 

Having an appointment once every three months is a great way for your prosthetist to see how you are doing and if anything needs changed. Over time, your body can change and prosthesis can be worn down, so it is important to make sure everything is working correctly.

 

  1. Prosthesis Lifespan

Gel liners crack, socks get worn down, and mechanical attributes will go out. That is why it’s important to maintain your prosthesis when the time comes. If you feel that it is working differently or fits abnormally, that means it’s time to schedule an appointment.

If any of these situations have happened to you, be sure to contact your prosthetist to make an appointment. We believe that being comfortable and safe with the right prosthesis is the most important thing, so you can continue to be happy and healthy while enjoying life.

3 Common Questions New Amputees Ask

Posted on: August 23rd, 2017 by FloydBrace Blogger

 

It’s never easy to adjust to life as an amputee. Even with a phenomenal health care team and an army of friends and family to support you, you will still be faced with many challenges, struggles and questions as you start your journey.

Today, Floyd Brace is here to clear up three common points of confusion for new amputees:

  • Prosthesis, prostheses, prosthetist—I thought it all referred to prosthetics?

 

The words we use to describe manufactured body parts come from Latin words, so they have some funny endings! A prosthesis is the singular noun that means “artificial body part.” The word prostheses is the plural of that word. A prosthetist is the clinician who will fit and fashion for you your prosthesis.

 

“Prosthetic” is an adjective to describe which limb is artificial. So, you could say “that’s a prosthetic leg,” but you wouldn’t say, “She wears a prosthetic,” without following up with which body part is a prosthesis.

 

  • When will I get to wear my prosthesis?

 

This all depends on your recovery time after surgery, but in general, you will have a temporary prosthesis a few weeks after the operation. For the next few months, your focus will be on healing. Once that has happened and any inflammation or swelling has subsided, we will fit you for a custom prosthesis.

 

Even then, it may be a while before you wear your prosthesis full time. You will need to learn how to perform day to day operations with it, which means undergoing several weeks or months of physical therapy.

 

  • I’ve heard of phantom limb pain. Will I get this?

It’s estimated that 80 percent of all amputees worldwide will deal with phantom limb pain at some point.  Some people feel like they are crazy for experiencing it, but this couldn’t be further from the truth!

 

There are a number of different ways to combat phantom limb pain. Some of them include identifying what triggers your phantom limb pain and having a plan in place to counter it when it happens. Other methods include mirror box therapy, where you trick your mind into believing the limb is still there.

These are just a few of the common questions we receive from our patients. You can also check out our patient resource center. If you can’t find an answer to your question, you can always make an appointment with us to learn more about what to expect as a new amputee!