I Woke Up and My Prosthesis Doesn’t Fit – Now What?

Posted on: May 13th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

As a new amputee, you will face a number of hurdles when it comes to learning how to use your prosthesis. One of the more common problems is waking up to find that it no longer fits as well as it did the day before. Don’t panic—we’ve seen this before, and can help. Here are a number of tips on what to do in that situation:

  • Visit your prosthetist: For new prosthesis users, you will likely have to visit your prosthetist regularly during the first few weeks or months to find a fit that makes you feel most comfortable. This may mean making appointments up to several times a week. Your limb is undergoing drastic changes, so naturally you’ll need many adjustments made to your prosthesis.

 

  • Be proactive: There are some motions that can cause a residual limb to change. Taking a hot shower, dangling your limb over the side of a bed or chair or neglecting your stretches can all cause it to change shape, thus affecting the prosthesis fit.

 

  • Experiencing weight loss or gain: Weight fluctuations can cause your limb to swell or decrease in size, causing your prosthesis to feel too tight or too loose. Make sure you consult with your prosthetist if you are experiencing any discomfort when wearing your prosthesis due to fluctuations in your weight.

 

  • Worn or damaged socket: Over time, the socket, or the piece of your prosthesis that connects your limb and prosthesis, can become worn, causing you to feel discomfort when moving. Consult with your prosthetist about replacing your socket if it has become damaged due to normal wear and tear.

 

Any time you experience unexplained discomfort when wearing your prosthesis, you risk causing further damage to your body and more pain. Schedule an appointment with Premier Prosthetics today so you can enjoy all of the amazing benefits that your prosthesis has to offer.

Diabetes and Amputation: What You Should Know

Posted on: May 6th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

In 2010, 73,000 people over the age of 20 underwent amputation due to complications from diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, foot care and proper management of your blood sugar levels can significantly reduce your chances of having an amputation in the lower leg, foot or toes.

By following the foot care instructions below, those who live with diabetes can significantly lower their chances of an amputation:

 

  • Check your feet regularly for blisters, swelling, bruises, and redness
  • To get a closer look at your feet, use a magnifying glass
  • Use a feather or other light object to check for sensation in your feet
  • Ask a loved one or a friend to examine your feet
  • Discover if your feet can feel the difference between warm and cold temperatures
  • Wear diabetic shoes and socks to ensure circulation

 

When managing your blood sugar levels, the following steps can help you avoid complications caused by diabetes:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Check your blood sugar regularly
  • Exercise
  • Take your insulin and other diabetic medications as instructed by your physician

 

At Premier Prosthetics, we have a wide selection of diabetic foot care and blood sugar testing supplies available to help you maintain the health of your lower limbs and prevent your chance of amputation caused by major diabetic complications.

Tips for Sleeping When You Use a Prosthesis

Posted on: April 22nd, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

You know the power of a good night’s sleep, but 40 percent of Americans say they don’t get enough! While this can be remedied by practicing good sleep habits, as an amputee, you may need to take some additional measures.  What you do during your sleep has a huge impact in the way your prostheses fits the next day. Premier Prosthetics is here to give you top tips on sleeping when you use a prosthetic limb:

  • If you are an above-the-knee amputee, avoid sleeping with a pillow between your legs. This can lengthen the inner thigh muscles while shortening the outer thigh muscles. The result is a change in the way the limb lays when you stand the next day.

 

  • Above-the-knee amputees should also avoid sleeping with a pillow under the limb, as this can cause a hip flexion contracture. You will not be able to completely straighten your hip the next day.

 

  • Make sure to put your prosthesis on before sitting up from bed. This helps to prevent the blood from rushing down to your limb, causing it to swell and not fit properly in your prosthesis.

 

  • Take your shower at night, instead of in the morning. Hot water is another factor that causes swelling limbs. If it’s absolutely necessary to bathe in the morning, use cold water.

 

  • Perform daily stretches to lengthen your leg and hip muscles. This can help ensure your limb muscles lie comfortably whether you’re standing or lying down. If you’re unsure of how to do these stretches, make an appointment with us today to learn all about them.

Premier Prosthetics encourages you to try these tips and embrace a good night’s sleep! Whether you’re a new amputee or have been wearing a prosthesis since childhood, we’re here to help you. Contact us today if you have questions about your prosthesis.

3 Reasons Why Diabetes Causes Amputation, and What You Can Do About It

Posted on: April 15th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

Diabetes is the number one reason Americans undergo amputation. This disease can cause nerve damage, ulcers, infections and other foot-related ailments that can quickly worsen. Those who have experienced limb loss as a result of diabetes are often at risk of experiencing a second amputation as well.

Premier Prosthetics is here to help. We’re going to look at the top three reasons why diabetes causes amputation, and what you can do about it:

 

  • Damaged blood vessels and nerves.

 

If your blood sugar stays at high levels for too long, you run the risk of damaging blood vessels and nerves, especially in your extremities. This leads to decreased sensation, which means you may not notice at first if you get a cut, sore or a blister on your foot. Any one of those can then turn into an infection that isn’t able to heal properly. You can protect your feet by having one of our orthotists create custom orthotic shoes for you.

 

  • Decreased white blood cell effectiveness.

 

High levels of blood sugar not only lead to damaged nerves and blood vessels, they also lead to decreased effectiveness of white blood cells. This means your body will not be able to fight any infections that occur on your feet as well. By managing your blood sugar, you will decrease the likeliness that an infection is unable to heal.

 

  • Poor circulation.

 

The third thing that high blood sugar causes is poor circulation, which means less blood is getting to your extremities. This makes it easier for ulcers to develop, which when combined with your body’s decreased ability to fight infections, can lead to amputation. Staying consistent with your blood sugar management program can help you avoid amputation, as well as ceasing any bad habits such as smoking.

 

 

Premier Prosthetics wants to help our patients avoid additional amputation. Fortunately, when it comes to diabetes, proper blood sugar management and foot care can go far in prevention. See us today if you want us to make custom footwear to protect your lower limbs.

Modifying Your Home for the Recent Amputee

Posted on: March 25th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

If you and your doctor are planning an amputation—or even considering it as a possibility—there could be a number of changes that you will need to make to adjust to your life. Even if you plan on wearing a prosthesis, there will be a healing period, which will require you to go without it for some time.  Because of this, some additional home modification may be necessary. Premier Prosthetics is here to help with the top three things you’ll need to do in order to make your home accessible for a recent amputee:

Make the entrances and exits more accessible.

Stairs can be a challenge for lower-limb amputees. Threshold or modular ramps can make it much easier to move in and out of your home while using crutches or a wheelchair. If you have a staircase in your home, consider installing a stair lift, even if it’s temporary. For upper-limb amputees, replacing your doorknobs with levers and installing motion-sensor lights can make life a little easier.

Install Bath Safety Products.

A shower chair or bench is very helpful to the lower-limb amputee both before and after you’ve received your prosthesis, as it allows you to bathe while sitting down. You should also install a safety grab bar, to help stabilize yourself as you get in and out of the shower. Both of these products are usually found at your local home medical equipment supplier.

Move things in your kitchen.

If you’re using a wheelchair, you may need to rearrange items in your kitchen so they are accessible from a sitting position. This means organizing your cupboards so a majority of things are located on the lower shelves. For upper-limb amputees, you may want to buy a number of appliances that can help you in food preparation, such as an electric can opener and a food processor. There are also a number of other kitchen tools to help the one-handed chef. Things like a spike board, belli-clamp, a buttering board and a saucepan handle stabilizer are great staple for upper-limb amputees.

 

For any other suggestions on how to make your home more accessible, don’t hesitate to contact us! We’re here for you in every part of your prosthesis journey.

When Your Child Needs an Amputation

Posted on: March 18th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

Nothing could be harder than seeing your child undergo a medical crisis. If you have a little one facing amputation, it may feel like your whole world is about to change. While your home may need some adjustments, the biggest difference you can make is being there for your son or daughter. At Premier Prosthetics, we work with a number of pediatric patients. We want to offer you these tips on what to expect moving forward:

Children often adapt better than adults.

One of the things we’ve noticed at Premier Prosthetics is that our pediatric patients have often had an easier time adapting to their prostheses compared to their adult counterparts! Because they haven’t fully formed their identity in life, it’s often easier for them to mentally accept changes such as amputation. Their younger age also allows them to heal quicker after surgery, which means they can start learning to use their prosthesis at a more advanced rate.

Kids take emotional cues from you.

It’s true that the strength of the parent affects the child. How you choose to react towards their amputation will often color how your child sees themselves. By accepting your child’s limb difference and being willing to embrace their physical challenges, you will help them foster a sense of independence that will follow them for the rest of their life.

Taking care of yourself is just as important

Accepting the role of caretaker is not a simple transition at any age. Many parents find themselves becoming overwhelmed. Remember, you can’t give strength to your child if you are too tired yourself. Between friends, family and Premier Prosthetics, don’t be afraid to ask for help during this difficult time.

 

It’s going to be okay in the end.

Your child will grow up to be a happy, successful adult. Limb loss isn’t going to hold them back from going to college, falling in love or starting a family and career of their own. Organizations such as the Amputee Coalition can connect you and your child to people and resources that will help them stay on the right track.

At Premier Prosthetics, we understand the needs of amputee children are different than adults. Our practitioners know how to communicate with them at their level and ensure they adapt successfully to their new prosthesis. Please hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to learn how we can help your little one.

Common Misconceptions about Amputees

Posted on: March 11th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

Every amputee faces questions from time to time, and often these questions can be fueled by common misconceptions. Premier Prosthetics is here to dispel some of these myths, and spread some much-needed amputee awareness:

  • You must have had a tragic accident!

 

Not all amputation happen because of a traumatic experience. Some amputees are born without various body parts. This is referred to as congenital limb loss. Another common cause for amputation is complication associated with diabetes. In fact, this is the most common reason for amputation in the United States.

 

  • Amputees wear their prosthesis all the time.

 

Wearing a prosthesis is like putting on a shoe. There are some times where it’s more comfortable to go without it. In some situations, wearing a prosthesis may not even be an option. If there are sensitive electronic parts in a prosthesis, for example, an amputee typically wouldn’t wear it while swimming.

 

  • Amputees all have an amazing athletic ability.

 

Because of wonderful programs such as the Paralympics, there’s a lot of attention placed on amputees who have overcome their personal limb loss to become great athletes. However, not all amputees were athletic prior to limb loss, and may not feel inclined to take up a sport after the fact.

 

  • Amputees can’t swim, hike, ride a bike, etc. again.

 

If people don’t think of amputees as great athletes, they often think of them as unable to participate in many activities. The truth is, many amputees are able to regain an active lifestyle, and enjoy exercise across a wide variety of difficulty. It may take work, but we’ve found most of our patients to be very resilient.

 

  • Amputees walk different while using a prosthesis.

 

With the right prosthesis, prosthetist and physical therapist, it’s very easy for an amputee to hide the fact that they’re walking on a prosthetic leg. Often, people won’t know someone is an amputee until they choose to reveal it.

 

These aren’t the only myths we’ve heard circulating about amputees, but they are some of the more common ones. Are there any you would add to this list? Share this article and comment on our Facebook to spread awareness in your social circle! If you would like help returning to your active lifestyle, contact Premier Prosthetics today.

Taking that First Step: Learning to Walk Again After Bilateral Amputation

Posted on: February 24th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

Adapting to life after amputation is a journey in its own. Re-learning how to perform many daily tasks can certainly take a toll. If you’re a bilateral lower-limb amputee this means learning how to walk and balance on your new prostheses. Premier Prosthetics would like to encourage you along this process by sharing the key steps throughout your adaptation timeframe:

 

  • Initial recovery phase.

 

After surgery, you will spend some time in a wheelchair while you recover and build your strength. Our physical therapists will show you proper stretches, muscle conditioning tactics and strategies for maneuvering your weight.

 

  • Learning to walk again.

The first prosthesis you use will be short training legs that teach you how to balance. You’ll use your wheelchair less and less during this time and begin adopting canes or crutches instead. Once you’re able to safely walk in your prostheses all day, you’ll be ready to move to the next step.

 

  • Using intermediate devices.

During this process, you will gradually increase the height of your prostheses. You’ll also learn to navigate obstacles such as curbs, inclines and stairs. Physical therapy will continue throughout this time, helping you increase your strength and ability to balance along the way. At this stage, you will have a minimal need for a wheelchair and may be able to stop using it entirely.

 

  • Walking with your full-length legs.

 

After you’ve completed the first three benchmarks, you’ll be ready for custom prosthetic legs. You may still need to use a cane or crutches while you get used to them, but you’ll work on becoming increasingly mobile without them. If you have an above-the-knee amputation, you’ll learn how to perform tasks such as sitting down and walking up and down stairs using your prostheses’ bending motion.

 

These are the steps that you will go through as you begin to walk again, but remember these are emotional steps as well. We recommend reaching out to loved ones during this time and connecting with fellow amputees in the area. Premier Prosthetics is here for you as well. If you’re ready to being your path to mobility, contact us today to set up an appointment with one of our prosthetists.

Heart Healthy Exercises for Lower-Limb Amputees

Posted on: February 17th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

As an amputee, you have a unique set of health concerns. According to the Oxford Journal of Medicine, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease may be one of them, especially for post-traumatic lower-limb amputees.

One way to combat this added risk is to get plenty of cardio-friendly exercise, which may be while adapting to your prostheses. February is American Heart Month, and Premier Prosthetics is excited to offer you effective and achievable options to help you get started:

Swimming.

This is perhaps one of the most accessible exercises, it doesn’t require extensive leg movement to exercise properly. Depending on what type of a prosthesis you have, you may or may not be able to leave it on while in the water. Always remember to check with your prosthetist before you go for a plunge.

Hand Bike.

It is entirely possible to learn how to ride a traditional bike using lower-limb prosthesis, but if you’re not ready or comfortable, a hand bike can be a great alternative. While this requires buying special equipment, it also means you’ll become more mobile. Many recent amputees report becoming tired more easily, but this device can enable you to exercise without early fatigue.

Stretches or Yoga.

Cardio exercises are good for your heart, and regular stretching can be extremely beneficial for your overall mobility. These movements can safeguard you from pulling muscles during more intense cardio exercises, and can keep you from injuring yourself while learning stability on your prosthesis. Additionally, stretching can help your prosthesis form better to your residual limb.

 

Remember, adjusting to life with a prosthesis is a journey, and there may be some frustrations along the way. With perseverance, however, you can return to a more mobile life. Our expert staff can help you get there, so contact us today to set up appointment!

 

Dating After Amputation

Posted on: February 10th, 2017 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

With hearts in all the windows and candies and flowers abounding, reminders of love are everywhere right now. If you’re a new amputee, you might be looking at these reminders and wondering what the dating scene will look like for you now. Premier Prosthetics is here to offer some encouragement when it comes to looking for love after limb loss:

  • Focus on what mattes.

 

Finding your confidence after amputation can be difficult, but just remember that your heart, soul and mind are intact. You can love someone while still missing a limb, but it’s impossible to love someone if you don’t have a heart or soul. Those essential parts of you are still there no matter what.

 

  • Rejection will happen.

 

If someone is not interested in dating you because you’re an amputee, they are not worth your time. Rejection happens to everyone, but there are some people who will reject you because they are uncomfortable with your condition. The problem—and the loss—is theirs, not yours.

 

  • Reveal your condition naturally.

 

Don’t fret over how you will bring up to your date that you are an amputee. If you’re wearing shorter clothing, it may be obvious. Otherwise, be yourself and let it come up naturally in the flow of conversation.

 

  • Be prepared to answer questions.

 

Even if some people will reject you because of your amputation, more than likely your date will be curious. Prepare some of your answers ahead of time, such as how it happened and what your day-to-day life is like. How much information you give away is all dependent on your comfort level with the other person.

 

  • Be Positive.

 

You want to present your best side to your date, especially if you’re just getting to know each other. Rather than focusing on the negative aspect of losing a limb, tell them about you proudest moments in regaining your independence.

Just as most amputees go on to have successful careers, participate in athletics and pursue hobbies, so too do they go on to find love, life partners and start families. At Premier Prosthetics we’re here to help you return to the activities you previously enjoyed. Not only can we craft custom prostheses and orthoses, we can also connect you to support groups who can offer you guidance and emotional support as you undertake this journey in life.