The summer heat and humidity – not to mention the lure of the beach – can wreak havoc for amputees.
“Sweating is the biggest thing, especially in a hot and humid area like Richmond and particularly when you’re active or in the sand and salt water,” says Joe Sullivan, owner of Powell Orthotics and Prosthetics and himself an amputee and Paralympic volleyball champion. “So staying dry and clean is especially important.”
While gel liners typically help to protect your skin from friction, a little extra TLC is needed to keep prosthetics – and yourself -- clean in the sweltering summer. Joe offers some tips:
- When cleaning your liner, stay away from anti-bacterial soaps or those with dyes or perfumes. Use mild soap instead to combat bacteria that builds up on the gel liners, especially when the gel gets wet. Gel liners take the brunt of sweat, sealing off skin pores. Gel liners take the brunt of sweat, sealing off skin pores. Be sure to clean you liner daily.
- Wipe gel liner with rubbing alcohol once a week. While soap takes care of the effects of perspiration on your liner, wiping gel liners will reduce bacteria to keep your skin healthier.
- Wear the right socks. In the summer most people retain fluids due to humidity, which can lead to reduction of socks. However, those who are active in the summer may need more socks because your leg or arm can shrink. See what's best for you.
- Going into the ocean is OK as long as you take precautions afterward. Carbon-fiber and titanium devices do fine in salt water but salt will corrode aluminum. Be sure to rinse well after a dip in the ocean, preferably soaking your device in a pool or bathtub shortly after.
- Clean your device daily and lay it down to dry, using your second prosthetic in the meantime.
"Amputees are going to live their lives and they don't slow down for the heat of the summer," Joe says. "Just know how to care for your prosthetic so it lasts longer."