Feb 28

​Snow and Ice - hints and tips for amputees

Posted by LimbPowerAdmin on Wednesday 28th February 2018

Snow and Ice - hints and tips for amputees

1. Go slower than usual and approach slippery surfaces with caution. Wear a rucksack so your hands are free in case you need support or to hold on to something.

2. Wear shoes with traction such as trainers or snow boots, it will help prevent a fall and keep your foot warm. The more traction you have on your shoes the better. Use grips or cleats on your shoes. I invested in some Snowtrax shoe grips which you put on the bottom of your shoes like snow chains. Keep a spare pair of trainers or boots in your car or office.

3. Use some additional support, this can be a person/s to walk with you and help you balance or an assistive aid such us a walking stick, crutches, walking poles, a walker or a wheelchair, if you struggle to walk. I personally use walking poles, with the ice tips as I find that my crutches can slide away from under me on the ice or other slippery surfaces. You can also buy ice tips for canes and crutches. Think about who you are with and if someone can help you, don't be afraid to ask for help. If you are happy to go out on your own, make sure you tell someone where you are going. Keep a charged mobile phone with you in case you get into trouble and need help.

4. Learn and identify the different types of snow and watch out for hidden ice. Be cautious and distribute your weight evenly between heel and toe. Lift your legs for each step when in deep snow to avoid a fall that could result from dragging your limb through the snow.

5. Be cautious - Don't trust paths that have been treated with salt, still be carefully as there may still be snow and ice on the surface. It is also worth noting that walking on grit, salt or sand can cause your prosthetic foot to lose traction and result in a stumble or fall. If you can use railings or an assertive aid to help with stability.

6. Wheelchair ramps or sloped paths are also dangerous, so take extra care on these and use the handrails. Some people tackle ramps sideways (crabbing) in icy conditions. It's easier to control and hold a leg if it slides. I used this technique to walk the O2.

7. Keep your residual limb (stump) warm, I don't know about you but mine gets really cold and can go purple if it's really cold. Your extremities are the first places that get frost bite so keep your little leg warm. Tips: A hand sized heat warmer is very useful to help with circulation at the end of your amputation as it can be very poor. Make sure it is frequently massaged to increase circulation as it can become very uncomfortable when removing a prosthetic for several hours without much movement. It is also discrete if you are sitting in a classroom or in a restaurant and do not want to draw attention to yourself.

8. Wear clothing that is waterproof so if you do fall (hopefully not) you will reduce your risk of further discomfort/possible hyperthermia.

9. Know how to get up if you do fall and you are not hurt and do not require need medical assistance. fall. If you are on your back roll over onto your front. Using your hands to support you, bring your sound limb up followed by your prosthetic limb. If you try to bring your prosthetic leg up first it is more likely to slip out from underneath you. If you are a double amputee balance on your knees and raise yourself to a standing position.

Remember, snow is great fun. You CAN go out/play with friends/build a snowman/snowball fight. Do not let your amputation stop you from having fun, just be prepared!

Issues you need to think about.

Energy storing feet are great, but the energy that is released when you step off your foot can cause the foot to slide out from under you.
If you have steps at home clear you steps or ask a family member of neighbour to clear off your steps, the same applies to pathways.
I will turn this into proper article once i've had some feedback, as I am sure there is a lot of good advice that I am missing!