Caring for a patient’s new prosthetic device and residual limb is very important. We are here to assist our patients by instructing them on the best way to care for themselves and the device. The prosthesis is designed to increase a patient’s mobility and regain their independence. The more frequently a prosthesis is used the easier it is for a patient to understand what they will be able to accomplish with the device.
In order for the prosthesis to perform at its optimal level it must be taken care of properly. The device is mechanical and it will require maintenance and sometimes repairs. To keep the prosthesis working at its best, we recommend regular checkup appointments, which can help prevent potential problems. The patient should call us immediately if they hear any creaking, clicking, or squeaking sounds so we can replace the part quickly. During the appointments we, also inform patients of any new advancements in technology that would benefit them.
The prosthesis is customized specifically for the patient and their individual needs. When putting on the prosthesis it is important that the skin of the residual limb is not squeezed, bunched, twisted, or wrinkled because this could cause pain and redness to their skin. The prosthetist will show the patient the best method for putting on their prosthesis and will recommend socks, powder, and other types of liners to make the patient more comfortable.
Wearing the prosthesis and increasing the patient’s activity level are two very important goals. Our practitioners will give a schedule to their patient that gradually increases the amount of time they wear their prosthesis. Our patients typically start with a couple of hours each day and over the course of a few weeks, progress up to wearing their prosthesis all day. Trying to be too active too soon can create problems such as, skin irritation and soreness. The patient can avoid unnecessary complications by closely following the schedule given to them by their prosthetist. If the patient doesn’t wear their prosthesis enough it will decrease the patient’s progress towards reaching their goal of wearing the prosthesis full time.
Initially perspiration can be an issue when wearing a prosthesis, especially when using a liner. The perspiration should get better the more the patient’s residual limb gets used to being in the socket. Patients may use antiperspirant on the residual limb. Depending on the patient’s amount of perspiration, they may need to change their socks more than once a day. If the patient continues to have a problem, call your prosthetist.
It is essential to clean the residual limb every day after wearing the prosthesis. Use a mild antibacterial soap, rinse thoroughly with water, and gently dry with a towel. Next, allow it to air dry completely before putting on the prosthesis. When bathing, carefully examine the skin of the residual limb for any red or tender areas as well as, any type of cut or blister. Inspecting the skin is even more vital for patients who have diabetes or vascular disease.
Don’t forget that the socket needs to be cleansed daily too. The patient may also clean it with antibacterial soap and water. Many patients clean the socket after their evening bath. This gives the socket and the residual limb plenty of time to dry overnight. If the patient is wearing a liner with the prosthesis. They will be given two liners. The liner should be cleaned with soap and water at the end of the day and air dried for 24hrs. Once a week the liners should be wiped down with rubbing alcohol.
Photos used with permission of the following companies: Becker Orthopedic • Cascade DAFO, Inc. • Endolite • Orthomerica Products, Inc. • Össur Americas • Ottobock • Spinal Technology, Inc. • SureStep • Touch Bionics, Inc. • Townsend Design
Courtesy of Spinal Technology, Inc. © 2013.
Courtesy of Orthomerica Products, Inc. © 2013.