Adjusting to prosthetic legs or prosthetic arms can take some time for children. Teaching your child how to take care of their prosthetic limb can keep it functioning properly and help make it a part of their daily routine.
Your prosthetist will coach your child about the personal hygiene required for the health of their residual limb. However, equally important is the continued upkeep and care needed for their prosthetic legs or prosthetic arms in Arkansas. With the guidance of your prosthetist and your supportive encouragement, caring for their own pediatric prosthetics will give your child a sense of ownership of their device and their health.
What to Avoid
One of the first things you should do is help your child understand what activities that can harm prosthetic legs and prosthetic arms. It’s important for your child to get in the habit of protecting their prosthetic limb from things that might harm it:
- Water contact is generally not advisable for most prosthetic limbs. Your child will need to remove it prior to getting into the bathtub or shower, jumping in the pool, or wading in the ocean.
- Chemically-based materials can damage a prosthetic limb. Remind your child not to put sunscreen, bug spray, or even deodorant on the prosthesis, and shield it when working with paints, glues, and other craft supplies.
- Contact sports and other high impact activities can damage prosthetic legs and prosthetic arms. Check with your child’s prosthetist to see if your child will need to remove the prosthetic limb before specific activities or if an advanced sports prosthesis is needed.
Depending on the type of prosthetic limb your child has, specific socks will be recommended, both to protect the residual limb when not wearing the prosthesis, and as a cushioning layer when the prosthetic limb is in use. In order to keep these supporting materials hygienic, it’s important to clean them regularly. Set aside a special drawer for the prosthetic socks, which need to be changed daily. Depending on your child’s age, you may need to either set them out or remind them to use new socks each morning. You can designate a special laundry basket for used socks at the end of the day to help your child get into this routine.
When it’s time to wash the socks, show your child how to hand-wash them in the sink. Use a mild liquid soap that’s detergent-free, and warm water. The water should run clear through the socks after rinsing to indicate that no soap remains that will irritate your child’s skin when in use. Blot the socks with a towel to remove excess water, and hang them to dry. Remind your child that twisting or wringing the socks should be avoided, because their shape needs to be maintained.
The gel or silicone liners that your child wears between their residual limb and their prosthetic limb need regular care. Read the manufacturer’s directions together on how they should be cleaned so one day your child will be able to take care of them alone. Often this will involve a daily system of turning the liner inside out to wash the gel lining with antibacterial soap, then drying it flat or on a special stand. Weekly wipe downs with isopropyl alcohol are also usually recommended. Of course, this fluid should definitely be used with supervision, especially with younger children.
As with silicone or gel socks, the manufacturer’s instructions for items like sockets, plastic webbing, and leather straps can vary depending on the maker. Help your child understand how to clean these pieces, and how often that should be done. This “wear and care” regimen will not only protect the health of their leg, but also the health of their prosthetic limb as they grow.
If you are a parent or caregiver of a child who needs pediatric prosthetics in Arkansas, contact Horton’s Orthotics & Prosthetics today at 501-683-8889 to set up an appointment with one of our experienced prosthetists who can help your child enjoy a bright future.