Prosthesis Skiing 101

Posted on: January 10th, 2017 by FloydBrace Blogger No Comments

There’s nothing like hitting the slopes on a sunny winter day, but if you’re a new amputee, you may feel discouraged about learning your favorite sport all over again. With the right preparation, it’s completely feasible to ski post-amputation. Floyd Brace would like to share a few of our favorite skiing strategies:

Sit-Skiing

If you’re not able or ready to stand up while skiing, this is the perfect option for you. There’s two main styles of sit-skis: bi-skis, which have a bucket with two skis, and mono-skis, which have a bucket with one ski. While the mono ski offers the best maneuvering capabilities, the bi-ski does offer the most stability.

Three-tracking

If you feel secure enough in your balance, you may want to try three-tracking. You balance your sound leg on one ski, and use poles with ski-like blades on the bottom. This allows you to ski without taking your prosthesis along, which can help you avoid any problems associated with exposing it to snow and wetness. The one disadvantage is that it places a heavy amount of stress on the sound limb. Before attempting this technique, you may want to work with your therapist to see how to best build up your strength and endurance.

Skiing while wearing a lower-limb prosthesis

Remember, your prosthesis was designed for walking, not skiing. Your prosthesis will likely require some adjustment before you hit the slopes, so be sure to check in with your prosthetist. He or she may also recommend you use an orthosis for better stabilization. For more advanced skiers, there are special devices build specifically for this sport, such as a foot that clips directly onto the ski and doesn’t require you to use a boot to ski.

Upper-limb amputees

When you’re first starting out, it’s a good idea to get an adaptive device that allows you to grip the pole. After a while, you may not need it at all. It’s not uncommon to see upper-limb amputees who are advanced skiers go without them. Before you even attempt to ski with your prosthesis, however, make sure that you take extra precautions to ensure it doesn’t get wet.

At Floyd Brace, we want to help. We can make any adjustments you need before getting back into this winter sport and we’d love to answer any questions you have about hitting the slopes after amputation.

Holiday Travel Tips for Amputees

Posted on: December 20th, 2016 by FloydBrace Blogger

Holiday travel can be hectic even under the best circumstances, but for amputees it often offers additional obstacles. However, with a little bit of planning and preparation, you can help make your trip go off without a logistical hitch. Here are some of Floyd Brace Orthotic and Prosthetics’ top tips for traveling with a prosthesis during the holidays:

  • Make a List, Check it Twice

 

The last thing you want is to have your prosthesis break during your trip. Be sure to check these potential signs of malfunction before you leave:

  • Unfamiliar sounds.
  • Loose parts.
  • Liner tears.

 

  • Plan for the Worst.

 

Straps break, socks are misplaced and screws come loose. It’s important to pack additional items for your prosthesis, should something goes wrong. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry:

  • Travel tool kit.
  • Additional socket liner.
  • Some strong tape.
  • Additional pairs of prosthesis socks.
  • Your prosthetist’s phone number.

 

  • Prepare for the TSA.

 

If you’re flying, you’ll need to be prepared for an inspection by TSA officials. They may not need you to remove your prosthesis, but they will want to look at it. Wear loose clothing to help this process go quicker. You may want a note from your doctor explaining that you have a medical necessity for the prosthesis. If you do feel that you are treated unfairly by TSA officials, follow these tips from the Amputee Coalition.

 

  • Inquire about Special Accommodations

 

If you are a lower-limb amputee, it may help to request additional support such as wheelchair assistance, especially if you have a long trek between flights. It can help you feel less worn-out by the end of your trip, and wheelchair users are seated either before or after the flight, allowing you the space to become situated. Some airplanes also offer bulkhead seating, which faces the wall instead of the aisle. These allow you more space to get in and out, and they’re usually reserved for those with disabilities.

As long as you stay prepared and keep calm, you can minimize the frustrations of traveling with a prosthesis. If it’s been a while since you last saw your prosthetist, now is a great time to set up an appointment. Happy holidays from your friends at Floyd Brace Orthotic and Prosthetics!

Home for the Holidays When You’re a New Amputee

Posted on: December 13th, 2016 by FloydBrace Blogger

There may be no place like home for the holidays, but if you’re a recent amputee, you may be anxious about what your next gathering will be like. This can be especially true if you’ll be seeing family for the first time since receiving your prosthesis. Floyd Brace Orthotic and Prosthetics would like to help you prepare with these tips:

  • Rehearse Your Story.

 

What details do you want to reveal about the circumstances leading up to your amputation? Practice your narrative ahead of time so you can leave out any details that are too personal. Explain it well enough that you don’t have invasive follow-up questions, but vague enough that you can protect your privacy if needed. Try to anticipate any additional inquiries people may have, and prepare your answer.

 

  • It’s Okay Not to Answer.

 

If you have that one aunt or uncle who’s just a little too inquisitive, it’s okay to give them a firm but kind “No.” For those questions you’re not comfortable with, you can answer with, “I’m not getting into that,” or “Let’s not go there.”

 

  • Stay Active.

 

Many family gatherings involve some kind of physical activity that allows members to interact with each other. If that is no longer possible for you, find a different activity that will allow you to have the same quality time. This could be a board game, decorating cookies or perusing through old photo albums.

 

  • Enjoy Alone Time.

You may have traveled a long way to see your relatives, but remember, you’re also on another journey—that of healing and recovery. Whether you need to get away to rest, readjust your prosthesis or just escape the emotional overload, it’s okay to excuse yourself to a quiet room for some time alone.

 

  • Be Transparent with the Host.

 

If you need an additional accommodations, make sure you communicate those with the host ahead of time. It’s okay to ask for a real bed instead of the couch or air mattress. If you need to bring a shower chair, ask for their bathtub’s dimensions, to make sure yours will fit.

 

Being surrounded by people who love and care about you can go a long way towards helping you recover from your amputation. Use this time to reconnect, and don’t let what happened to you stand in the way of enjoying the holiday season. At Floyd Brace Orthotic and Prosthetics, we’d love to help you during your recovery process. Make an appointment today and see what we can do for you!

Skin Care and Your Prosthesis

Posted on: November 21st, 2016 by FloydBrace Blogger

skincare

As an amputee, it’s important that you maintain a healthy relationship with your skin, especially on your residual limb. An infection can prevent you from wearing your prosthesis and interrupt the active lifestyle you’ve worked to maintain. Unfortunately, germs can incubate all too easily inside of a prosthetic socket. It’s a warm, non-breathable environment where the oils of your skin mix with sweat, making it a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

Symptoms of skin infections include blisters, pus, drainage, rashes, fever, hot spots and sudden pain. If these don’t go away on their own, contact your prosthesis. Skin problems can become serious for amputees, so persistent issues should be treated and evaluated.

There are some things that amputees can do on their own to prevent skin infections:

  • Wash your residual limb and prosthesis liner daily. If you have a tendency to sweat or are prone to rashes and infections, make sure you are washing more than once.
  • Make sure you have a proper fit with your liner. If something feels off or uncomfortable, communicate that to your prosthetist.
  • When you do wash your residual limb, make sure to avoid soap with pigments and scents. Instead, opt for the clear antibacterial soap.
  • Alcohol-based lotions can dry out your skin, making it more likely to breakdown, so make sure you avoid those.
  • Your skin can be kept soft and moist by using a small amount of baby oil.
  • Control sweat by using a clear gel deodorant. Avoid stick deodorant, as this can damage the liner.
  • Don’t shave your residual limb. This can cause you to develop ingrown hairs, which in turn can become infected.
  • Carry extra socks with you to swap out throughout the day as they become sweaty.

By following the above steps, you should be able to avoid major skin breakdown. At Floyd Brace, we want to make sure that you can maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you think you may have a skin issue or if you think you need an adjustment.

Posted on: November 14th, 2016 by FloydBrace Blogger

thanksgivinganddiabetes

Complications arising from diabetes account for over half of the amputations in the United States each year, according to the Amputee Coalition. If you’ve been diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes, you know how important it is to maintain a healthy weight. Unfortunately, with the holidays coming up fast, you will be faced with social situations in which over-consumption of food is encouraged. Floyd Brace would like to offer some suggestions for the lean approach to Thanksgiving:

  • Eat breakfast.

 

A light, healthy meal in the morning can help you with portion control, since you won’t arrive at dinner starving.

 

  • Start the day with activity.

 

This may be difficult to squeeze in if you’re preparing all or part of the meal; however, getting up early and exercising before you indulge in your favorite dish can help you burn off those extra calories.

 

  • Substitute some of the fattier ingredients with low-fat options.

Greek yogurt has a similar texture and taste to sour cream, but has significantly less fat and calories. Other ways you can cut back on fat is to halve the amount of butter a recipe calls for or use sugar alternatives.

  • Exercise portion control.

 

Scan the table for which items you really want to eat, and which ones you’re okay with skipping. Don’t waste your calorie count on food you can have all year round—instead, identify your holiday favorites and have smaller portions of each.

 

  • Don’t stuff yourself.

 

Instead of eating until you feel drowsy, stop when you feel satisfied. Most Thanksgiving dinner items are filling, so chances are it won’t take long for you to get to that point. One way to do this is to eat slowly and truly savor the taste of the food.

 

  • Limit alcohol intake.

 

The calories in alcohol can add up fast, and inebriation can lead to more consumption of food. Enjoy a glass of water between alcoholic drinks so you can stay hydrated.

At Floyd Brace, we want you to be able to enjoy your time with friends and family without having to worry about damaging your health. We serve many lower-limb patients who live with diabetes, and can answer any questions you may have about wearing a prosthesis if you have diabetes.

Thanksgiving and Diabetes

The Top Hiking Tips for Lower-Limb Amputees

Posted on: October 17th, 2016 by FloydBrace Blogger

fallhiking

The leaves are changing, the air is crisper, and pumpkin-flavored items are popping up on every menu. Fall is finally here, which means the woods will be bursting with color. Now is the perfect time to get out and appreciate nature.

If you enjoyed hiking through fall foliage prior to your amputation you may be able to continue to do so. Floyd Brace would like to offer you these fall hiking tips:

  • Check in with your prosthetist before you go on a hike. They can make sure your prosthesis is fitted properly for the activity, and that all the components are working properly. The last thing you want is to have a malfunctioning leg in the middle of the woods.
  • Have some company join you, especially if this is your first time out in the woods post-op. They’ll add to the fun, and be able to assist should any portion of your prosthesis malfunction.
  • Wear lightweight, supportive shoes. Your sound limb takes on extra force during extraneous activity, and a good pair of shoes can help reduce the shock.
  • Bring some extra fitting socks. Volume control is very important during times of increased activity, and you may find yourself adding or taking some off at various intervals of the hike.
  • Take along an adjustable hiking pole. It can help with balance, as well as with creating power while you’re ascending hills or slowing you down when descending.
  • Chafe guard or barrier cream can come in handy in case you have a specific friction point. While you may have no problem with your socket fit on a day-to-day basis, extra activity or uneven terrain can create pressure points that weren’t there before.
  • Many people go on a hike to get away from it all. However, we still recommend that you carry your cell phone on you, just in case. You can always leave it on silent while admiring the changing of the season.

Floyd Brace loves helping amputees return to their active lives. With a little bit of preparation, you can enjoy everything that the fall weather has to offer. If you have any questions about how to get back to your favorite pastime, don’t hesitate to give us a call or set up an appointment.

5 Ways to Decrease Your Risk for Breast Cancer

Posted on: October 10th, 2016 by FloydBrace Blogger

breastcancer

According to the American Cancer Society, around 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women this year. This October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and together we all need to do our part. Throughout this month, Floyd Brace would like to spread the word, by highlighting five ways to decrease your risk of this life altering diagnosis.
1. Know Your Family History – Approximately 5 to 10 percent of breast cancer cases are hereditary. This percentage isn’t huge, but it is high enough to pay attention to. If you do have breast cancer in your family history, consult a geneticist. You can then determine if you carry the genetic variation – BRCA2 – which makes you more prone to developing breast cancer.
2. Know your body – Dense breasts make your cancer risk approximately six times higher. Become familiar with how dense your breast tissue is and look for changes as you age. While there is nothing you can do to decrease the density of your breast, you can ask to have an additional MRI or ultrasound screening during your next scheduled mammogram.
3. Stay fit – The American Cancer Society recommends keeping your exercise to at least 150 minutes per week which is 30 minutes per days for 5 days per week. This activity can help to boost your immune system and keep your body fighting off unwanted invaders.
4. Eat right – A Harvard study revealed that women who had high carotenoid levels in their blood system had a 19 percent lower risk of breast cancer. Aim to get more carotenoids in your system by eating additional fruits and vegetables. Foods such as leafy greens, red peppers, and carrots are just a few foods which are high in carotenoids, which can easily be added to your daily meals.
5. Detect early – If found early, your prognosis is drastically improved. You have a 90 percent survival rate if found early and confined only to the breast. How do you detect early? Know your breast tissue, know your family history, and get screenings more often and earlier if you feel you’re at a higher risk for breast cancer.
There are many tips available to reduce breast cancer risk including breast-feeding, minimizing hormone therapy, reducing exposure to radiation and even becoming a “previvor” or taking aggressive steps to reduce risk such as a prophylactic mastectomy. At Floyd Brace, we want to support you in your fight against breast cancer. Please share these tips throughout October and continue to educate your friends and family on Breast Cancer Awareness.

Which Prosthetic Liner is Best for You?

Posted on: September 26th, 2016 by FloydBrace Blogger

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

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.