Residual limb care
In the hospital, the nursing staff and doctors took care of your residual limb by cleaning the wound and changing the bandages or dressings. In the rehabilitation phase, you are shown how to care for your residual limb, the scar and also your sound leg yourself. Note that regular and intensive care will be essential so you can wear your prosthesis without problems. Special care products for your residual limb are available for you to use. Over time you will develop a daily care routine that will be a natural part of your everyday life.
Daily care of the residual limb and prosthesis
During the rehabilitation phase, you will be shown how to properly care for your residual limb. To prevent the skin from becoming rough and scaly, you should wash the residual limb with water and mild soap in the morning and evening (e.g. Derma Clean). Then dry the skin thoroughly or carefully dab it dry and apply a cream. Derma Repair and Derma Prevent are two products from Ottobock developed especially to care for residual limbs and highly stressed skin. Derma Prevent for example helps prevent chafing by covering the skin with a protective film, keeping it soft and supple. Derma Prevent is usually used in combination with the liner and therefore applied directly before putting on the prosthesis. Derma Repair alleviates the consequences of heavily stressed skin and protects it against damaging external influences. Derma Repair is generally applied in the evening after taking off the prosthesis. Note that putting on a prosthesis in the morning – immediately after washing – is often more difficult than usual, since warm water causes the skin on the residual limb to swell slightly.
In addition to caring for your residual limb, the prosthesis should also be cleaned daily. Your O&P professional will be happy to advise you. Wipe the inner socket of the prosthesis with a damp cloth to remove perspiration and skin particles. A clean contact surface to the skin helps prevent skin irritation. If you wear a liner, please care for it daily as well according to the instructions for use.
Help in case of residual limb problems
If skin folds or scar contractures have formed on the residual limb, they require special attention in order to prevent infections. Your rehabilitation team can advise you about this. During residual limb care, also look for skin injuries, pressure points and blisters. These may require medical treatment. A mirror can help you examine the back of your residual limb. Regularly massaging and gently stretching the scar is another important element of residual limb care and desensitising the sensitive skin on the residual limb.
Caring for the sound leg
Your residual limb is not able to support a lot of weight after the amputation. This automatically puts greater strain on the sound leg. However, its health and intactness are very important for you to regain your mobility.
If you have circulatory disorders, regularly examine your sound leg for minor injuries as well. They could become dangerous in case of an infection and should therefore be treated immediately by a doctor. Many affected individuals visit a trained pedicurist for foot care, such as having their toenails trimmed. Comfortable, well-fitting shoes reduce the strain on your sound leg. Insoles may also be recommended. The choice of socks is important in addition to footwear: Socks should be made of wool or cotton, so that they absorb perspiration well. If the cuff is too tight, it can disrupt blood flow. Socks have to fit without wrinkles and should be worn only for one day. Otherwise perspiration forms salt deposits that can chafe the skin and lead to infections. In case of circulatory disorders, it is also important not to transfer to a wheelchair while barefoot. You should not stand or walk barefoot either – the risk of injury is too high. When you are lying in bed, you can put a padded support under the heel and ankle of the sound leg in order to prevent pressure points.