Posts Tagged Tips

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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