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Prosthesis accessories

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A soldier in the U.S. Army plays foos-ball with two prosthetic limbs. Courtesy of the U.S. Army, by Walter Reed photographers.
A soldier in the U.S. Army plays foos-ball with two prosthetic limbs. Courtesy of the U.S. Army, by Walter Reed photographers.

A prosthesis is a device which replaces a missing body part or limb to assist or improve function (See Prosthesis). A multitude of accessories improve a user's experience. Note that some of these require "build height"- in other words, they might not fit in every person's prosthetic setup. Talk with your prosthetist if you have any questions.


Contents

Problems and possible solutions

Putting on and taking off the prosthesis

Lubricant spray.
Lubricant spray.

Does friction make putting on and taking off (donning and doffing) the prosthesis difficult?

  • If you have a liner, spraying isopropyl alcohol on the outside can make it easier to slide into the prosthesis.
  • Using lotion can make the liner easier to put on.
  • If you have a skin-fit socket, your prosthetist should provide you with a donning sleeve- also known as a pull sock or parachute bag.

Water

Waterproof wearable bag.
Waterproof wearable bag.

Keeping your prosthesis dry in the shower or in other wet conditions can ease concerns about water damage. Two examples of waterproof bags that can be worn are

Skin Care

Inside a prosthesis is a harsh environment. The skin can become too dry, too moist, chafed, and difficult to clean.

  • Non-soap cleaner may help you keep the inside of a liner clean without exposing you to any residual soap the next day.
  • Moisturizing: Lotions, creams, and ointments can all help keep your skin healthy. Standard or specialized moisturizing creams are available.
  • Anti-chafing lubricant and barrier: Creams or petrolium jelly will reduce friction and any associated irritation.
  • Anti-perspirant: Specialized anti-perspirant for people with an amputation is available.

For examples, this website has some of the products described above: http://amputeesupplies.com/

Socket fit

If your socket feels loose, contact your prosthetist. He or she has many tools to improve the socket fit, inluding:

  • Shrinkers: After an amputation, these increase how fast your limb will normalize in volume.
  • Spots: Small gel circles about 1/8" thick can take up space in your prosthesis.
  • Pads: Pads are typically made and attached to the inside of your prosthesis to increase pressure in select areas.
  • Sheaths: A thinner version of a sock (see below), a sheath can wick sweat, and can make the socket a little more snug.
  • Socks: The thickness of a sock is measured in "ply." One-, three-, and five-ply socks are available to make the socket more snug.

Cosmetic changes

A cosmetic sprayed-on skin-like covering.
A cosmetic sprayed-on skin-like covering.

While cosmetic coverings can make necessary repairs and changes more difficult, they can also greatly improve the appearance of the prosthesis.

  • Foam coverings create the shape of a normal limb over the prosthetic components.
  • Cosmetic skin-toned coverings can be sprayed on, or they can be made of plastic or fabric. One company that specializes in detailed spray-on coverings can be found at: http://gpfinc.com/spray-skins.shtml

Additions to the prosthesis

Most of these additions will not work with all people's prosthetic systems. Consult with your prosthetist with any questions.

A rotator unit made by Fillauer.
A rotator unit made by Fillauer.
  • It can be difficult to get an AK (transfemoral) prosthesis to fit comfortably in a vehicle. A rotator unit adds a button, often just above the knee unit, which will allow you to rotate and rest your prosthetic foot on your other knee. This makes getting into the car (and putting on or taking off a shoe) much easier. One example of a rotator unit can be found here:

http://www.fillauer.com/Lower-Extremity-Prosthetics/Trans-Femoral-Rotator.html

A Ferrier coupling makes changing prostheses quick.
A Ferrier coupling makes changing prostheses quick.
  • If you have multiple prostheses that you often use, frequent changing can be annoying. A Ferrier coupling allows you to keep your socket on while removing the rest of the prosthesis using a single pin.
  • Shock absorbers and torque absorber may be useful in many sporting situations.
An upper-extremity prosthesis tool changing station.
An upper-extremity prosthesis tool changing station.

Other accessories

  • A travel bag for your extra prosthesis can be useful: http://amputeesupplies.com/products/legbag.html.
  • Hand pumps for creating a vacuum in specially designed sockets can be purchased. Talk with your prosthetist if this might be helpful to you.


References and External links