Archive for Tips and Self-Help

Tis’ the Season for New Year’s Resolutions

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What’s on your list for 2016 resolutions? For many, improving their health is at the top of the list. This may include making better food choices, such as adding more fruits and vegetables or cutting back on sugar, or your goals may be exercise related, to become more active and strengthen your body. Whatever it is, taking care of the body we are given is important. If you are an amputee though, figuring out ways to be more active can often feel daunting. Perhaps you might like these suggestions for improving strength and flexibility.

Flexability

Movement and stretching are key for all amputees. It’s important your body doesn’t stay locked in any one position for too long. For example, if you are a below-the-knee amputee, be sure to fully extend your knee in a stretch position throughout the day each day (perhaps 15-20 minutes each time). You can stretch it out on a couch, a chair or even the floor. Just be mindful of releasing your knee from its bent position for at least short periods of time each day.

It’s also important for amputees to keep their hips stretched out. So much of your walking strength and balance comes from this area. Try lying on the floor on your stomach with your hips flat on the ground. Do this a couple times a day for 10-15 minutes. For an even better stretch, slightly lift up your head and shoulders or even place a couple pillows under your chest to prop you up while your hips are stretching out.

Strength 

Hips and Legs: For strengthening your hips, lie on each side while you raise and lower your leg or residual limb on the side that is on top. Repeat on each side. Try several repetitions of these each day, and if possible, continue to keep the side of your body that is on the ground straight to continue allowing the hips to stretch out. This will improve strength in your hip abductors and adductors. If you want to strengthen hamstrings and quads, the suggestion is similar. For quads: while lying on your back on the floor, raise and lower each leg one at a time. For hamstrings: change to lying on your stomach on the floor and repeat the same process, raising and lowering one leg at a time.

Arms: Arm strength is another important area to not neglect. Arm exercises can be done in a variety of ways. If you own or have access to an exercise machine, take advantage of the various arm settings it offers, or even simple dumbbells can be used at home. You want to use some some weight resistance for strengthening these muscles. If your amputation allows you to do push-ups or tricep dips, this is a great way to strengthen your arms with your natural body weight.

Balance: Lastly, amputees must have good balance and this takes lots and lots of practice. Start first with balancing exercises on your good leg. While standing just on that leg, try reaching out for things, bending down to pick something up, twisting for something behind you etc. This takes a lot of work and really improves your core strength, where your balance stems from. Once you get better at doing these things on your good leg, start slow and try them while standing only on your prosthesis. Be sure to practice these moves safely, either with another person around to catch you or with a walker or wheelchair nearby. Also, don’t forget functional training for every day activities like shifting your balance back and forth between each leg, climbing a step, or even kicking a ball. You might just surprise yourself with what all you can do.

Remember, your overall health as an amputee plays a key role in your mobility. Keeping your body at a healthy weight, make good food choices, and practicing daily flexibility and strength training exercises are going to make a significant difference in your success. Becoming an amputee has likely shown you that you are stronger than you ever thought you were – keep up the good work as you inspire us all with your courage.

(Keep in mind, we are not doctors and this information is not intended to be taken as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine.)

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More Than Just ‘Horsing Around’

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We all know that animals provide significant, positive, therapeutic impact both physically and mentally. A variety of animals are often used for therapy services, but many would say there’s just something extra special about horses.

Therapeutic horseback riding actually dates back to fifth century B.C. Greece as a means to rehabilitate wounded soldiers. It was also used by the English during WW I and eventually became a more prevalent means of therapy in the U.S. in the late 1960’s. (1)

Over the years, studies on equine therapy have shown improvements in everything from balance, pain, and muscle stiffness, to improved sense of self-worth, impulse control, emotional management and socialization skills. (2)

Typically, patients are evaluated based on their individual needs and a specific method of therapy is selected. The method may be a form of equine psychotherapy, horseback riding, or hippotherapy. Hippotherapy is based on the repetitive and rhythmic sensory input provided specifically through the pelvis of the rider. The various gait patterns of the horse can provide different levels of input which can improve sensory processing and neurological function of riders. (3) Hippotherapy can be a very effective healing tool for children with special needs including but not limited to down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, brain injuries and autism. (4)

Eastern North Carolina is very fortunate to offer four nearby options for Equine Therapy, not to mention a variety of private behavioral health professionals offering this service. What a unique and fun format for rehabilitation, therapy and healing!

Nearby Programs:

Hope Reins – Raleigh, NC 27615

http://hopereinsraleigh.org

Helping Horse Therapeutic Riding Program – Raleigh, NC 27613

http://www.helpinghorse.org

Horses for Hope – Raleigh, NC 27603

http://horsesforhope.org

Horse and Buddy – New Hill, NC 

http://www.horseandbuddy.org

 

 

Works Cited:

1. http://www.neurologycare.net/hippotherapy-and-therapeutic-horseback-riding.html

2. http://www.equestriantherapy.com

3. http://www.equestriantherapy.com/hippotherapy/

4. http://www.equestriantherapy.com/hippotherapy-kids-special/

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Prevention of Lawn-Mower Related Amputations

It’s summertime and like always you are out mowing your yard. Suddenly, you look up and see your child running towards you. In a split second your life changes forever.

Did you know that according to the Amputee Coalition, more than 600 children a year undergo mower-related amputations? What a significantly high number for an issue that is nearly preventable.

What can you do to make sure your child stays safe?safety

  1. Never allow your child to be in the yard when you are mowing. Better yet, make sure they are inside the house.
  2. For younger children especially, be sure an adult in the house is actively watching them as it only takes a moment for them to slip out a door.
  3. Explain the dangers of mowing to your child. Help them understand why this is such a serious subject and why their obedience is crucial.
  4. Do not let your child ride on the lawn mower with you.
  5. Do not allow your child to play on a lawn mower, even if it is off.
  6. Only allow children 12 years or older to operate a lawn mower, and be sure a parent is still supervising.

Children are not the only ones to receive mower-related amputations.

preventionMower safety tips for adults

1. Be sure to wear the proper attire for protection. Closed toed shoes, pants, eye protection and gloves.

2. Clear the ground of rocks, limbs, and debris before you begin.

3. Refuel either before you start or only while the motor is cool and only refuel outdoors, not inside the garage.

4. Make sure your mower has an automatic shut off either as part of the handle, if it’s a push mower, or when the seat is empty for a riding mower.

5. When removing grass, unclogging the chute, or inspecting any part, turn the mower off and be certain the blades have come to a complete stop.

6. Do not drive or pull the mower backwards in reverse unless absolutely necessary – in which case be sure to check behind you before doing so.

     Remember: 

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Coping After An Amputation

While your body heals physically after an amputation, there is an emotional healing that takes place as well. Neither of the two healing processes are quick, but taking steps to move forward in a healthy way can help promote a positive outcome in the end.

The Power of Positive Thinking

Did you know that scientific study has actually proven that optimism promotes physical health and may improve the well-being of an individual [1]? While a period of grief, frustration and possibly anger is expected and okay, it is important to then move forward with hope and with positive thoughts. Remind yourself that simply going through this process has shown you that you are stronger than you ever thought you were.  Recognize the unique perspective you now have on what is important in life. Identify the creative ways you have learned do tasks that you previously took for granted before your amputation. Be thankful for the strength your body has to adapt to this new change.

Boundaries and Expectations

Learning to navigate the world after an amputation takes time. Identify your new challenges and consider how you can address them. It is important to communicate with your family about what things you need help with and what things you can do for yourself. Don’t be too quick to assume that you can’t do something. You may be surprised how your new resilience can provide just the push you need to figure out good options.

Emotional and Spiritual Well-Being

Keeping a journal is one of the best ways to express your feelings and frustrations without letting them bring you down. It’s also a great way to track your progress; it can encourage you down the road as you look back at how far you’ve come as you record milestones and accomplishments. Never underestimate the power of prayer either. Taking time daily to sit quietly, reflect, pray and journal can provide balance to what otherwise can be an emotional roller coaster.

Physical Health

Despite the changes in your mobility, finding new ways to exercise is still important. While combatting disease, exercise is also proven to improve your mood, your energy and your quality of life [2,3]. Core exercises surrounding your lower back, hips and gluteal muscles can also make a major difference in your ability to comfortably wear a prosthesis [4]. Physical exercise and a healthy diet also combat weight gain, which results in a better fitting prosthesis.  Talk with your physical therapist and prosthetist about exercise ideas that are best for you.

Peer Support

Plug in to an amputee support group, organization or sports team. The camaraderie with others who understand your unique challenges renews your confidence in yourself and your abilities. See our previous post on local amputee support groups.

And always remember:

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[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2894461/

[2] http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389

[3] http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Physical-activity-improves-quality-of-life_UCM_307977_Article.jsp

[4] http://www.amputee-coalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/common-exercise-issues.pdf

 

 

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Proper Limb Care: Taking Care of Your Skin

Ouch! Between your skin and your prosthesis there is no room for air circulation.  This traps sweat and dirt that can lead to bacterial and/or fungal infections.  Without proper skin care practices, even a well-fitting prosthesis can wreck havoc on your residual limb.  Anything from red irritation, to infection or even ulcers can lead to the inability to enjoy your limb or worse.  Keep these tips in mind to keep minor irritations from turning into significant complications.  

IMG_1596        Tip #1: Wash your limb daily 

It’s best to wash your limb with mild soap and water and pat it dry, taking special care to insure you do not leave wet areas that can lead to fungal growth.  

Do not shave your limb as a tight-fitting socket can lead to in-grown hairs.

Do not use powders or creams unless recommended by your prosthetist or doctor. The only cream we recommend is called Healthy Limb.  It is comprised of organic ingredients and botanical extracts. You can find out more information and order through www.healthylimb.com

We suggest new amputees shower at night as the hot water can lead to swelling. Discuss with your prosthetist if and how long you should consider wearing a shrinker during the night. 

While sleeping, never use a pillow between your knees or rest your limb on a pillow.  This will likely result in contractures (the inability to straighten your muscles). 

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Tip #2: Regularly Check for Redness/Pressure Marks

It is a good idea to examine your limb a few times throughout the day.  Take a careful look at your limb in the morning to get a baseline of how the natural coloring should appear.  Then once throughout the day and again at night before bed, remove your prosthesis and check your limb again. You are looking for redness that does not go away after about 4-5 minutes of removing your prosthesis.  

If you notice any issues, do not try to pad the area or make adjustments on your own. This will lead to unintended additional pressure points in other areas.  Simply contact your prosthetist for an adjustment.  

If you notice an area of skin breakdown – you must take steps to allow that area to heal properly before wearing your prosthesis again. If you try to bandage the area and continue wearing your prosthesis you could end up with an ulcer or infection.  

Tip #3: Wash Everything!

If it touches your skin, it needs to be washed regularly with soap and water. This includes liners, socks, even the inside of the socket.  Be sure everything DRIES COMPLETELY before reusing any of these items.  

IMG_1603Tip #4: Be Prepared for Anything

It’s a good idea to assemble a take-along emergency kit. Items to include would be additional socks to account for any changes in your fit throughout the day, bandages, antibiotic ointment and SUNCREEN! Remember, your residual limb is almost always covered from the elements, so if you find yourself in a situation where it becomes exposed for any length of time, that skin will likely burn easily.  

Tip #5: Remember, We’re Here For You

At EastPoint Prosthetics and Orthotics, we genuinely want your prosthesis to fit well and for you to enjoy your mobility.  If you feel that your socket needs alignment or something needs to be adjusted, just give us a call.  We’re here for you!

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Healthy Super Bowl Snack Choices

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Super Bowl XLIX is just a few days away. For many people, it is the second largest food consumption day of the year behind Thanksgiving. While indulging every now and then can be okay, here are some recipes that can help keep the calorie count down while still enjoying some tasty treats.

Avocado and Corn Salsa

Apple Nachos

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

Stuffed Cucumber Cups

Let us know if you try any of these and how they turn out!

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Choosing a Prosthetist – What You Need To Know

Does it really matter who I choose as my Prosthetist? How big of a difference could it actually make? Well…the truth is, you would be surprised how different your outcome could be if you don’t do your homework. Everything from credentials to communication, availability and of course a good fit should be considered. In the end, choosing the right prosthetist is an important decision that ultimately is up to you. A doctor’s recommendation can be a great place to start, but there are many other factors to consider before you move forward. It’s a great idea to do your research, ask questions, and even take the time to meet the Prosthetist before your decision is made.

Factors to Consider:

Credentials: Is he or she certified by the American Board for Certification? How much experience does this person or company have?

Proximity: All prostheses require follow-up appointments. How far is their office from my house? Do they offer mobile services that can save me time and money?

Communication: Does this person listen and communicate well? Is it easy to talk to them? Do I feel comfortable asking questions? Are they willing to operate through a team approach with my doctor, therapist, and/or caregivers?

Availability: How easily will I be able to get in touch with them for appointments? Who will I call if I have any complications?

Insurance: Will their company accept my insurance? If my device needs a prior-authorization, who will make sure one is received? What will be my out-of-pocket expenses? Do they offer payment plans?

Recommendations: Are there any reviews or recommendations I can find from current patients? (social media or word-of-mouth)

Updated Knowledge: Is this person well informed regarding the latest options, materials, components and research?

Each patient is unique, and finding just the right fit takes time, patience, skill, and open communication. You must be able to express to your prosthetist your lifestyle needs, activities, and goals. Make sure they understand what factors are a priority to you. Your prosthesis should fit comfortably and simply be a tool that helps you function more effectively, not something that slows you down or causes any pain. With a well-fit prosthesis and the right Prosthetist by your side, you really can achieve excellent outcomes in mobility.

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Christmas Time is Here

It’s that time of year again – Christmas!!! It’s a mixture of hustle bustle, excitement, joy and delicious food! Christmas is also a time many families search for new ways to make special memories.  Our State magazine recently posted two articles with excellent ideas for NC Christmas traditions and unique Farm-to-Table restaurants worth trying.  Enjoy the list and let us know if you tried any of these ideas or places for the first time this year or your thoughts if you have already been to any of them. Merry Christmas!

Quintessential Tar Heel Christmas Experiences: https://www.ourstate.com/christmas-events-2014/

6 N.C. Farm-to-Table Restaurants Worth a Visit This Winter: http://www.ourstate.com/farm-to-table-winter/

 

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A Team Approach to Your Health

A few weeks ago, one of our friends had a revelation.  For over 50 years she has struggled through the challenges of being a diabetic, countless insulin injections, many stays in the hospital, and now, her most dreaded fear, dialysis.  Yet recently, during this difficult time of dialysis, she had her greatest revelation.  She said for all those years she always relied on the expertise of doctors to treat each issue as it arose, but never considered how SHE was supposed to be part of that equation too! She didn’t fully understand HER part in treating her condition.  For the first time, it fully resonated with her that doctors can only do so much. Without her cooperation and active participation in her health, their efforts would never lead to full healing.  It was a wake up call! With this new understanding, she has made significant changes in her food choices, exercise habits and more.  Now her only regret is not realizing all of this sooner, when it could have made an even bigger difference in her quality of life for a greater number of years.

This story resonated with us because too often we see a disconnect between patients and the variety of medical professionals who are helping them.  We feel it is not only important, but absolutely critical to approach prosthetic and orthotic care with a TEAM APPROACH.  A collaboration involving doctors, patients, physical therapists, care takers, and prosthetic/orthotic clinicians.  We strive to have open lines of communication.  This commitment is one of the reasons EastPoint is one of the only providers to offer mobile services.  Not only is it convenient for the patients, but, for example, when we can actually join the patient while they are with their physical therapist we are able to better understand their needs and address issues right away.  When mobile services are not available, we are still committed to being open and available to talk with the other key parts of the healthcare team and work together to create the most productive outcomes possible.

We realize, however, our role is only one part of the equation. If you have not already, we challenge you, like our friend I mentioned before, to consider how vital your own part is in managing your healthy outcome.  What can you do or change to improve your situation, and how can others involved in your healthcare help? Please contact us any time if you have concerns or questions.  We want to help you become the best and healthiest version of yourself that you can be.

 

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Oh no! I see a flat spot on my baby’s head!!

So many parents face this situation and suddenly begin to panic, but rest assured this is a common problem and can often be resolved without extreme measures.

The frequency of this concern for parents began to increase in 1992 when the “Back to Sleep” campaign suggested lying an infant on their back in their crib instead of on their tummy in effort to decrease the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).  While the American Academy of Pediatrics does feel the campaign has led to decreased instances of SIDS (1),other research indicates a correlation in the rise of plagiocephaly (flat spots) (2) due to the campaign. Nevertheless, some feel this is a small price to pay for keeping infants alive.

It would be shortsighted to place all the blame on the “Back to Sleep” campaign though.  Numerous other factors can be at play such as a restrictive uterine environment, torticollis (muscle stiffness in the neck), infant carriers, bouncy seats and swings (3) to name a few.  While some of these factors may be avoided, others are entirely out of a parent’s control.

The article below from kidshealth.org has great information on positional plagiocephaly, along with some excellent tips for repositioning techniques that may solve the problem without medical intervention.

http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/sleep/positional_plagiocephaly.html#

At EastPoint Prosthetics and Orthotics, we offer advanced scanning technology for cranial shaping helmets.  Unlike some other methods that can be uncomfortable or scary for your child, our kinderBAND™ scanner can be used while your child is sitting on your lap!  If you have any concerns, talk with your child’s doctor for a prescription to get a scan. We have an excellent track record of successful outcomes.  Most parents of our patients feel the sacrifice of time spent in the cranial helmet far outweighs the future benefits for their child.  While there are some who may dispute the need or effectiveness of this process, we have seen the proof in our own patients.  Here is an additional resource explaining effectiveness of the cranial reshaping process. http://www.oandp.com/articles/2014-08_04.asp

For more information about our Raleigh area cranial helmet provider, you can call (919) 844-7897. 

For our Eastern NC cranial helmet provider, call (252) 522-3278. 

 

Cited Sources:

1. http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/Profile-of-SIDS-Risk-Shifts-After-Launch-of-Back-to-Sleep-Campaign.aspx

2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9086896

3.http://www.cranialtech.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=72:plagiocephaly-causes&catid=37:what-is-plagiocephaly&Itemid=79

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