Which Prosthetic Liner is Best for You?

Posted on: September 26th, 2016 by FloydBrace Blogger No Comments

OP_Blogs_Sept_ProstheticLiners

When it comes to prostheses, the better the socket, the greater your comfort. A well-fitted socket can make you feel like you can do anything. On the other hand, an ill-fitting one can impede your quality-of-life. And the foundation for a great fit lies within the flexible gel liner.

Before gel liners emerged on the scene, amputees relied on foam liners, socks or even a hard fit. While foam is a great option for a custom fit, it tends to compress and compact around your limb, often unable to decompress to its original foam form. Today, however, amputees can choose from three different types of material for their personal gel liners: silicone, thermoplastic elastomers and urethane.

Silicone: When this material was first introduced in the early 90s, it was intended to suspend the prosthesis using a pin system. Soon, however, people realized how useful gel was as a liner because of its malleability. Depending on the material used, silicone can become soft or stiff. It can snap back into place after being stretched and is very resilient. Amputees who are looking for responsiveness and control often find they benefit from using silicone prosthetic liners.

Thermoplastic elastomers: This material is made from a very soft plastic. It stretches easier and returns to its shape better than the other two gels. Because it forms easiest under heat, prosthetists are able to manipulate them into a custom shape, making it a great option for those with skin issues or volume change.

Urethane: This tends to be the best gel for limbs with a bony prominence, as it holds the highest friction and stiffness level. Urethane is also good for those who need additional skin protection or soft tissue stabilization. However, the material may not be a good choice for those with a pin system suspension, as the tension is too soft.

Whether its silicone, thermoplastic elastomer or urethane, prosthetic technology has come a long way in the past 25 years. At Floyd Brace Orthotics and Prosthetics, we want you to understand all your liner options, so you can make informed decisions about your health. Call us today to set up an appointment and find the right socket fit for you!

Physical Therapy and Amputation: What You Can Expect

Posted on: September 19th, 2016 by FloydBrace Blogger No Comments

OP_Blogs_Sept_PhysicalTherapy

Getting used to a life-altering event such as amputation is never easy. In addition to grieving the loss of your limb, you must also physically get used to using a prosthesis. Luckily, there are a number of health professionals along the way who can help you, including physical therapists. Here are a few things you can expect during therapy:

The physical therapist will help you care for your residual limb.

After surgery, your residual limb will need to be shaped, massaged and otherwise readied for a prosthesis. The physical therapist will use an elastic bandage or shrinker to shape your residual limb, while monitoring it for circulation, pressure sores or misshaping. They will also help toughen your residual limb by massaging it. This gets it ready for a prosthesis by desensitizing it.

Physical therapy can help prevent or reduce contracture.

A contraction occurs when you haven’t moved your residual limb enough. Your muscles, skin or tendons become shortened, prohibiting normal movement of the joints and tissue. This may keep you from straightening your knees and elbows all the way. A physical therapist can show you exercises, stretches and good positions to prevent contracture from happening.

If you face these scenarios, seek out physical therapy.

After surgery and before you receive your prosthesis are probably the most crucial times for physical therapy, but there are other times you may benefit from physical therapy as well. Sometimes, you may not be able to use your prosthesis for a while, due to a variety of factors (neuropathy, skin break-down, additional surgery, etc.). Other times people just decide they no longer want to use a prosthesis. In either case, you could run the risk of developing contracture. Continued visits to your physical therapist can help prevent that!

Seeking out physical therapy at the right time is key to preventing many of the problems new amputees face. At Floyd Brace Orthotics and Prosthetics, we can help you adjust to all the changes you may face as a new amputee. Give us a call and set up an appointment today to find how we can help restore you to an active life!

Vacation Tips for Healthy Feet

Posted on: June 20th, 2016 by FloydBrace Blogger

vacation tips for healthy feet

Whether your summer vacation has you traipsing the city on sight-seeing tours or kicking back on the beach, your feet will either help or hinder your plans. With these tips from Floyd Brace, you can protect your feet so they can take you to new heights!

  1. Pack shower shoes. From hotels to campsite shower houses, avoid picking up fungal infections from previous users with a pair of mesh water shoes.
  2. Use flip-flops sparingly. Good for walking across sand, bad for longer wear. Not only do they offer minimal support, but they provide minimal protection from scrapes.
  3. Wear broken-in shoes. Nothing’s worse than blisters from new shoes. Wear your well-supported tennis shoes or sandals around the house for a day or two before your vacation to help break them in on your own terms.
  4. Don’t neglect socks. They’ll absorb sweat and protect your feet from friction, skin irritation, and blisters. Additionally, airports and many popular attractions require you to remove your shoes to walk through metal detectors, and socks will be a barrier between your skin and bacteria.
  5. Consider compression socks. If your travel plans include airplanes, opt for compression socks on your flight to relieve pressure that causes leg swelling, varicose veins, and deep vein thrombosis.
  6. Get the blood pumping. On long car rides, promote blood flow to reduce swelling by stretching your feet for a few minutes every hour. Pointing your toes up and down, small leg circles, and calve massages are manageable even in tight spaces.
  7. A long day of walking or hiking puts strain on lower-body muscles. Stretch your hamstrings, calves, and arches before bed to ease muscle stiffness and aches in the morning.
  8. Pack antifungal cream. Prevent picking up athlete’s foot in locker rooms and pool decks with an antifungal cream or powder you apply after walk through.
  9. Always use a bathmat. When stepping out of your hotel’s shower, a bathmat or towel will prevent slippage as well as exposure to bacteria on the floor.
  10. Remember a first aid kit. Even with the best care and proper footwear, blisters are likely to develop on long days of sightseeing. Band aids or gauze with antibacterial cream will soothe the area and prevent further damage.

Your feet can take you across cities, through desserts, up mountains, and over beaches. Treat them nicely! If you think you may need extra arch support to tackle your journey, contact one of our professionals at Floyd Brace to discuss custom orthotic options.

Summer & Scoliosis – Helping Your Child Embrace the Season

Posted on: June 13th, 2016 by FloydBrace Blogger

summer and scoliosis

When it comes to summer, the world is your child’s playground. With friends to see and games to play, they’ll want to soak up as much of the warm weather fun as possible. If your child has scoliosis, a back brace doesn’t have to stifle their summer. Try the following tricks to help them squeeze the most out of their vacation from school:

  • Take advantage of fun clothing. As a brace can be warm and cumbersome, flowy summer clothing is key for cooling off while covering up. A shopping trip for cut-offs, sundresses, and summery shorts with elastic bands all fit easily over the brace and can help feel like a special treat for their effort.
  • Call ahead. If your child is attending a daily youth program or an overnight camp, contact the program in advance to alert staff. Let them know how many hours he’s required to wear his brace and if there are any activities he may need to avoid.
  • Schedule plenty of pool time. Alieving pressure through natural buoyancy, swimming can ease pain and discomfort that your child’s curved spine places on their body. Additionally, water provides resistance, which helps to build muscles, increase flexibility, and improve endurance, all of which can develop total body balance and muscle strength to assist their spine. If your child only has a few hours of brace-free time during the day, swimming is an excellent and freeing way to spend it.
  • Pay attention to under layers. The layer worn between the brace and your child’s body is crucial for a comfortable fit. Invest in tank tops or form-fitting t-shirts made of moisture wicking material to prevent an excess of sweat and chafing, and look for options that feature seamless or minimal seams to prevent extra fabric from digging into the skin.
  • Keep powder on hand. If hot weather makes you sweat, imagine what it feels like when you have a thick fabric or plastic compression system around your torso! Heat rash caused by sweat and friction is common when wearing a brace, even with the most comfortable under layers. Baby powder can help reduce dampness and soothe the affected areas.

 

It may take some adjustments, but your child’s scoliosis doesn’t have to stop them from having a blast this summer! Get in touch with one of our physicians at Floyd Brace for even more adaptive tricks to manage scoliosis smoothly.

How to Protect Your Prosthesis from April Showers

Posted on: April 7th, 2016 by FloydBrace Blogger

water protection prosthesis

May flowers aren’t the only thing these April showers bring. For those that wear a prosthesis daily, sudden rainstorms can bring a flood of questions about the well-being of your device in water. Unless outfitted with sensitive electronic components, your prosthesis won’t receive enduring damage from a little splash as you dash across a wet parking lot. However, you can take the following precautions to protect your hardware as best you can during this soggy month:

  • If you live in an area that’s receives high amounts of rain or is doused at unpredictable times, consider investing in a waterproof prosthetic cover. Over-the-counter options are vacuum sealed, flexible covers made of a high-quality latex blend and can fit easily into your day bag, allowing you to slip it on quickly when rain strikes. You can also work with your prosthetist to create a custom waterproof cover addressing your needs.
  • Should you get caught in a deluge, remove your prosthesis once you’re safely settled inside and allow it to dry at room temperature. You can run a soft cloth over the exterior to soak up excess water, but never use a hair dryer or other direct form of heat to help it dry, as it can warp or damage sensitive components.
  • Avoid cotton prosthetic socks on days threatening to downpour. Cotton absorbs water and keeps it trapped against your skin, creating an uncomfortable chafing situation. Opt instead for wool or synthetic blend socks, which are designed to wick moisture away from the skin and dry quickly.
  • Wait until your prosthesis is completely dry before reattaching. A damp socket will create skin irritation, which can possibly lead to infection.

Rain or shine, our talented team at Floyd Brace will help you make best use of your prosthesis. Set up an appointment today to ask about custom waterproof covering options!

How to Enjoy the Great Outdoors as a New Amputee

Posted on: April 7th, 2016 by FloydBrace Blogger

great outdoors

As the temperature outside increases, so do the opportunities for fresh-air leisure after a winter cooped up inside. If you’re new to your prosthesis, don’t think that you have to give the beautiful weather a pass this year. With some practice, a couple of adaptations, and pure determination, your friends at Floyd Brace can help you take the great outdoors in stride:

Gardening

  • For lower extremity amputees, raised beds and hanging planters puts less distance between you and the ground, and limits the amount of time spent kneeling or bending
  • Keep tools, seeds, and watering cans in a tool cart so your items are always within reach
  • A nearby bench or rolling seat puts you at ground level without added stress on knees or ankles
  • Fixing a hand trowel, fork, or hoe directly to your arm prosthesis provides greater stability and range of motion than you’d gain from gripping the tool with a prosthetic hand alone

Walking

  • Walking requires a build-up of stamina for both cardiovascular systems and skin. Take it easy at first, walking down the length of your sidewalk or looping around your neighborhood once before building up to longer jaunts.
  • Stairs, curbs, hills, and uneven surfaces can throw off your gait. A cane, walking poles, or balance check from a friend can help you take the road bumps in stride.
  • To increase stamina and stability, engage in a number of practical exercises before you head out. Practice falling and getting back up, walking on uneven surfaces like carpets and rugs, and balancing on one leg to develop muscle memory.

Hiking

  • Choose liners made of wool or synthetic materials, as they wick sweat and splashes better than cotton, which absorbs liquid and can create skin irritation through chafing.
  • Opt for more rather than fewer layers of socks, which can create a layer to cushion the residual limb and prevent pressure sores from prolonged time in a prosthesis
  • Invest in a pair of hiking poles. Not only can they help maintain balance on uneven terrain, but they can help unburden pressure from knees or thighs.

Biking, swimming, kayaking, and other activities that require a specific range of motion may require special prostheses to participate and enjoy the activity fully. Contact one of the experts at Floyd Brace for questions about your prosthetic options so you can take complete advantage of the outdoors.

3 Beginner Exercises for Lower Extremity Amputees

Posted on: February 23rd, 2016 by FloydBrace Blogger

new amputee exercises

Going through an amputation is a traumatic experience.  It is painful, physically and emotionally.  Every amputee will tell you that you’ll have good days and bad days, but they’ll also tell you that no matter what, you need to keep moving forward.  At Floyd Brace, we want to help you move forward starting today with stretching, balancing and strengthening exercises for new lower extremity amputees!

Stretching

Stretching your joints after an amputation is extremely important.  Bending and extending your joints for as little as 20 minutes each day with each joint will increase flexibility and decrease pain.

  • Hips – To stretch your hips, you must lie on your stomach for 20 minutes at least two times per day. You can increase the stretch by adding pillows under your chest.
  • Knees – If you have a below knee amputation, remember to work your knees daily for full flexibility. To stretch your knees, simply extend your knee up on a chair for 20 minutes at least two times per day.

Balancing

Developing good balance is vital to a new amputee.  Your body will be balanced differently and you will need to practice daily to be successful.

  • Reaching – To relearn your body’s balance, you must set up objects to reach for while you are kneeling, standing on your good leg and standing on your prosthesis. Continue to increase the challenge to see how far you can push yourself.

Strengthening

Finally, new amputees will need to regain strength, especially in their stomach.  An important tip for this exercise is to remove your prosthesis before you begin or you may injure yourself.

  • Sit-ups – To strengthen your stomach, we recommend sit-up daily. As a new amputee, you will need to ask a partner to hold down your residual limb or place a weight on it to stabilize yourself.

With these simple stretching, balancing and strengthening exercises, you will be well on your way to a more active lifestyle in no time.  We hope you continue to push yourself and remain an active, healthy amputee.  However, you must watch for pain, redness, swelling or sores that may form, and contact your prosthetist if this occurs.

If you have any questions about how to be more active as an amputee, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!

Finding the Shoe that Fit Your Child’s Orthotics Braces

Posted on: February 23rd, 2016 by FloydBrace Blogger

kids orthotics shoes

Parents, prepare yourselves – your relationship with your child’s custom orthotics can be one of love and hate. While both you and your orthotist are thrilled that your child has taken their first amazing steps because of the strength and stability provided by these custom orthotics, they may fit with very few colorful, light-up, stylish children’s shoe on the shelf.

As parents, we all know the struggle of getting shoes on our children without the added stress of a custom orthotic that affects the fit of the shoe. To help make a perfect marriage between your child’s shoe and their custom orthotic, here are some tips to keep in mind during your next trip to the shoe store.

  1. Wide Toe Box

Look for a wide toe box to fit the added width of the orthotic.  Brands that are designed with a wider, boxy feel include Keen and New Balance.

  1. Removable Insole

We will also need to take out the insole to add space for the orthotic.  Keeping this in mind, look for a shoe that has an easy-to-remove insole, but keep the insole for added padding in the front of the shoe.

  1. NO Low Profile

Look for shoes that come up to the ankle bone.  This will help keep the orthotic in place.

  1. Wide Opening

Keep an eye out for shoes with a wide opening through the tongue to make it very easy to slip the shoe on over the orthotic.  It is also helpful when the tongue space is designed as parallel lines and not in a “V” shape.

  1. Good Laces or Straps

Your child will need strong Velcro straps or laces to secure the shoe snuggly over the orthotic.  This will also keep your child’s foot secure and stable.

We hope these five simple tips will help you find a shoe that your child will love, and that will also work perfectly with their orthotic.  If you have any questions about the fit of your child’s orthotic or how to purchase shoes or socks that will enhance the effectiveness of the orthotic, give us a call today!

Know the Difference Between Custom Shoe Inserts and Over-the-Counter Shoe Inserts

Posted on: January 27th, 2016 by FloydBrace Blogger

custom shoe inserts

Discreet and removable, a shoe insert is slipped into a shoe to offer added support to the heel, arch, and musculature of the foot, helping alieve pain from the ground up. Some options can be purchased from drug stores without a physician’s assistance, while others require much more than a trip to the corner store to secure. What gives?

Below, the Floyd Brace Company team breaks down key facts and differences between over-the-counter and custom shoe inserts:

Over-the-Counter Shoe Inserts

  1. Support and cushioning devices: Generic shoe inserts aim to temporarily ease minor foot and back pain. Some OTC inserts are made with gels and padded cushions, while others sport a hard plastic polymer, which provides more structure than their soft-material counterparts. Ultimately, they alieve but can’t properly fix the source of the pain.
  2. Available without a prescription: Because OTC shoe inserts are one-size-fits-all solutions, they don’t require a doctor’s signature. A pharmacist might offer insight if you’re deciding between different brands or designs, but their advice is generalized and given without complete understanding of your specific problem.
  3. Disposable, short-term solution: The average OTC shoe inserts lasts between six to twelve months, at which time materials have worn down and require a replacement. If an insert was improperly worn or targeted the wrong area, a new type of shoe insert may be needed to fix a problem created by the original device. Whether selected to provide arch support or back pain relief, generic shoe inserts aren’t designed to fix the core issue permanently but temporarily address the pain.

Custom Shoe Inserts

  1. Correct biomechanical imbalances: Heel pain, foot ulcers, hammertoes, and bunions are the result of faulty foot mechanics. Custom shoe inserts are designed to not just temporarily alleviate pain caused by the issues, but correct it by readjusting and redirecting bone and muscle placement and function.
  2. Designed for your feet only: Although some OTC shoe inserts market themselves as custom fit, they’re far from it. A true custom insert is made from a plastic mold formed to your foot by a trained professional, who has evaluated your gait and created a true-to-you prescription for an orthotic solution made of high-quality materials. Certain OTC options enable you to heat them to mold them to your feet, but they do not offer the same level of customization.
  3. Built to last: When handled properly, custom shoe inserts last five to seven years on average. Made with high-quality materials and professionally engineered, they hold up to treat your symptoms.

Though convenient, purchasing an OTC shoe inserts without a professional’s assistance may cause more harm in the long-run. Set up an appointment with one of the experts at Floyd Brace Company, who’ll evaluate and assist your next step towards a solution.

Get Sleep Better NOW As an Amputee

Posted on: January 27th, 2016 by FloydBrace Blogger

better sleep amputees

In addition to warding off dark circles and a drained complexion, a full night of uninterrupted sleep can prevent diabetes, sharpen memory, boost mood, and reduce chronic pain. If you’re dreaming of a solid, deep, wonderful sleep but prosthetic-related pain is blocking you, Floyd Brace Company can help make those dreams a reality with these simple fixes:

  1. Stretch daily: Promoting blood flow, easing tension, and preventing injury, stretching keeps your muscles flexible and your body working holistically. Stretching before bedtime has the added benefit of centering and slowing your breathing to relax both body and mind before you hit the hay, paving the way to a smoother sleep. Additionally, it can align your joints to make lying down more comfortable.
  2. Shower before bed: A hot shower might wake you up in the morning, but it also causes swelling in your limb that creates an uncomfortable, improper fit with your prosthesis afterwards. Bathing before bedtime not only helps your prosthesis fit when you wake up, it can soothe and relax limbs from a long day of use and help you slip into sleep more quickly.
  3. Be careful with pillows: Below-knee amputees should never sleep with a pillow, blanket, or other cushioned support under the knee. This can cause a contracture, inhibiting your ability to straighten your knee. For above-knee amputees, limbs resting on pillows misaligns the hip, and support between the legs improperly lengthens the inner thigh and shortens the outer thigh, throwing off walking balance. Train your body to find comfort lying in more evenly supported positions.
  4. Take preventative steps: If your limb experiences painful cramps in the middle of the night, treat it as you would any other muscle cramp. Drinking water and eating foods high in potassium throughout the day help fuel and relax the agitated muscles, and a gentle five-minute massage of the limb and surrounding muscles before bed can help stimulate the tension. For particularly intense nights of cramps, ibuprofen and a heating pad can help provide relief.
  5. Attach devices bright & early: For limbs adjusting to prosthetic use, attach them in the morning immediately after sitting up. Shifting from a horizontal to vertical position increases blood flow to extremities, creating swelling in newer residual limbs. Ensure a comfortable and proper fit by keeping your legs or arms from dangling over the side of your bed and limiting the time you’re sitting up and moving before attaching the prosthetic.

Total body wellness is a 24/7 process. If you have questions about achieving greater nighttime comfort, give us a call today.