As a prosthetist, I take great care to ensure that every patient leaves my office with a proper fitting prosthesis that is comfortable enough to wear all day and restores patient vitality. Many components come into play to make that happen – proper surgical techniques, thorough patient evaluations and the use of the newest technology, to name a few.
Once patients leave my office, there are important steps necessary to maintain a proper-fitting, fully functional prosthesis. The following are a few tips for success:
- Start slowly and stick with the plan. Although your schedule will be tailored to your specific situation, most patients start with as few as two hours a day and over the course of a few weeks progress to wearing the prosthesis all day. Don’t make the mistake of being too active too soon, which may lead to problems like skin irritation and soreness, or wearing it too little which will delay your progress toward becoming a full-time prosthetic user. If you have a lower limb prosthesis, start by using a cane or crutch so that you are able to gradually increase the amount of weight on your prosthesis.
- Take meticulous care of your skin. Clean your residual limb with a mild, scent-free antibacterial soap every day after wearing your prosthesis. Be sure to rinse thoroughly with clean water and gently dry with a towel. Allow your residual limb to completely air dry before wearing your prosthesis. When you’re not wearing your prosthesis, wear your shrinker.Carefully examine your skin for redness and other signs of breakdown or infection at least once a day. Skin problems such as irritation, skin breakdown (the process of skin being worn away) and infection are common due largely to the fact that blood vessel disorders and diabetes – the disorders that put people at risk of amputation – decrease circulation to limbs and increase the risk of skin breakdown and infection. If you have diabetes or a neurologic disorder, stay particularly diligent because you likely have an impaired ability to feel pain and will be less likely to notice when your skin breaks down or infection develops.
- Watch for signs of infection. Infection is a common problem because the socket creates the perfect environment for bacteria growth — an airtight, warm, damp environment where your body oils and sweat collect. Contact your physician if you have signs of infection such as reddened skin, sores, a discharge of pus, a bad odor, tender spots or rashes.
- Pay attention to the fit. Your stump changes in shape and size throughout the day depending on various factors, such as the activities you’re participating in, what you eat and the weather. Changes in your weight can also affect fit. New vacuum technology and the practice of changing socks can help accommodate for minor changes. If the change in the shape and size of the stump varies too greatly, it is important to see your prosthetist for an adjustment.
- Visit your prosthetist at least once a year. An annual visit affords your prosthetist the opportunity to check your prosthetic for any signs of wear and tear, make sure you still have an optimal fit, and provide information about any new advancements or upgrades available.
While the above tips provide only a brief snapshot of steps you can take for success, following them will greatly enhance your prosthetic experience.
To schedule a free consultation with Premier Prosthetic Center, call 865-474-7096 or request an appointment online. We look forward to discussing our philosophy of care and how we restore vitality for our patients. No referral is necessary.
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