Advanced Prosthetics - January 2021


During the Cold, Dry Winter Months


As we dive into the winter season in the Treasure Valley, you should know a few things about caring for your residual limb in the cold weather. You’ll have to account for a different set of challenges in the colder temperatures, but if you know what to expect, taking care of your residual limb in the winter will be a cinch. Here are three important tips for how to do that.

IN 2021

Moisturize your residual limb.

Have you ever started working on an important project and looked up at the clock

after what felt like minutes only to find that hours had passed? If you have, you’ve probably experienced “flow state,” aka the Holy Grail of concentration and achievement.

Boise’s cold and dry winters leave many people’s skin feeling dry and itchy. This problem can be exacerbated on residual limbs, where the skin might be more sensitive. Dryness and itchiness on your residual limb can also occur when your prosthesis rubs against it as you walk. Remember to apply unscented lotion morning and evening to your residual limb during the winter. It also helps to apply it after you take a bath or shower. Additionally, drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated can decrease your problems with dry skin to begin with.

What is a flow state?

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes a flow state as a "focus that, once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity: you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other; you get immediate feedback.” That sounds complex, but you can also think of flow as being “in the zone.” And it might be the key to achieving your New Year's goals. That’s because a flow state almost always coincides with tackling a difficult task, and when you’re in a flow state, even the most challenging things feel relatively easy.

Plan ahead for joint pain.

Many people suffer from joint pain during cold months, and that can be especially the case for amputees. The fat and muscles around a residual limb aren’t as prepared to protect against the cold, making joint pain a common problem. A few solutions could be some gentle exercises in the morning to get the blood flowing in the area around your residual limb, or a heating pad to do the same thing, for 15–20 minutes before going outside.

Why are high achievers obsessed with flow?

Account for residual limb shrinkage.

Flow state doesn’t only happen for people with desk jobs. You can get it while running, playing chess, dancing, or climbing a mountain, and it’s considered the Holy Grail because it has a host of benefits. According to the meditation app Headspace, those perks include heightened focus (goodbye, distractions!), a sense of clarity, feelings of happiness and pleasure, and the impression that all obstacles ahead of you have disappeared. That makes accomplishing your goals feel like less of a struggle. It's no wonder high-achieving hobbyists, workers, and creatives crave the feeling!

Cold weather decreases blood flow throughout the body, causing extremities to shrink slightly. This can be a problem for amputees because residual limb shrinkage can cause your prosthesis to not fit properly. The easiest solution to this problem is to wear a slightly thicker sock, but if the changes are too drastic for that to work, then you should talk to your prosthetist about other potential solutions or adjustments.

For any other questions or concerns about caring for your residual limb or prosthesis in the cold weather, give our office a call today at (208) 377-4024.

How can you get in a flow?

Usually, a flow state isn’t planned — it just happens. In a BBC article, author Steven Kotler describes flow as “a happy accident.” But he also notes that we can make ourselves “more accident-prone.” To set yourself up for a flow state, find a quiet place to work and choose an activity that’s difficult but meaningful for you. Ideally, it should be something you’ve already put work into perfecting. If you’ve never tried painting before, you probably won’t find flow on your first attempt, but an experienced painter could achieve it while mastering a new technique. Some people claim that being in a flow state is a form of meditation and that learning how to meditate can help you reach it. To that end, apps like Headspace and Evenflow (for iPhones only) are great places to start! Before you know it, you’ll be finding the flow like a pro.


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