Skin Care and Your Prosthesis

Posted on: November 21st, 2016 by FloydBrace Blogger No Comments

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.

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.