Walking in a Winter Wonderland: Navigating Winter Weather with Your Lower Limb Prosthesis
As winter approaches, you may be thinking about heating your home, driving in snowstorms, or the dreadful duty of shoveling yourself out. It’s challenging for anyone to make it through the snow and ice; but when you factor in a lower limb prosthesis, things could become more difficult, not to mention dangerous.
The seemingly mundane task of walking across an icy parking lot or through snow drifts takes on a new set of concerns when walking on a prosthetic limb as your ability to feel the ground’s feedback is compromised.
When walking on a slippery surface your toes and feet will sense the slip, prompting you to readjust your stance right away, preventing injury. Without that sense (proprioception), there’s a delay in your reaction time as it is your limb to sense the slip first, often when it’s too late.
But fret not, as we are here to offer the following tips to help prevent injury to yourself and damage to your prosthesis.
Dressy boots and shoes tend to have a hard, smooth sole that can be slick. The traction provided by a rubber outsole is determined by the size and depth of the lugs on the outsole. Lugs are the bumps and grooves in the rubber that grip the ground surface to prevent slips, much like the tread of a tire. The outsoles can also have a heel that stands out providing protection against slips on sharp descents and uneven terrain. Some boots have outsoles that can be replaced as they wear out, prolonging the life of the boot.
Don’t brave the conditions alone. The added stability of a walker, cane or crutches could prove invaluable while making your way down the slick sidewalks and icy parking lots. In addition, ice grip attachments can be added to the tips of your support aid and can be found at most pharmacies.
Not only can you attach ice grips to your support aid, you can also get them for your shoes. A crampon is a metal plate with spikes that you can attach to your winter footwear for added traction. Found where outdoor sporting equipment is sold, crampons come in different styles making it easy to find an option that works best for your winter needs.
Taking shorter strides and stepping onto drifts (instead of shuffling through them) will help you stay in control and maintain stability.
Although hibernation during the winter sounds like a better option, we still have shopping to do and appointments to make. We hope this list helps you this winter. As always, don’t hesitate to contact your prosthetist with questions or concerns about your prosthesis.