Things happen—it’s a fact of life. As an amputee, your prosthetic feet can fail for a number of reasons. Chief among them is weight gain, which pushes you outside the weight limit of your prosthetic foot category. Sometimes, it's the unavoidable deterioration of your foot's internal components—bumpers, friction rings, bushings, and washers can be affected. And there's the inevitable: Your foot has simply hit the end of its life expectancy.
Waiting for your insurance approval when you require an immediate foot replacement can be disruptive to your daily routine. There will be lost time from work or school, as you experience lower back discomfort from prosthetic imbalance. Sometimes, medical group approval can take weeks.
To avoid the unnecessary stress of waiting for your insurance approval when your prosthetic foot fails, we’ve outlined 4 things you can do today to ensure that your foot is in tiptop shape all the time.
Watch out and listen for squeaks and rattles. Be aware of unusual sounds that come from your prosthesis. Unusual noises are indicators that your prosthesis needs to be checked. The model of your prosthetic foot dictates the exact noise it should have; however, any noise that's out of the ordinary should be immediately checked by your prosthetist. Clicking, grinding, or popping noises are tell-tale signs that something’s amiss.
Probe for micro fissures or cracks in the carbon or associated parts. Fiberglass and carbon feet are known to last longer than other types before failing, but they will eventually exhibit signals that they're wearing off.
Frequently inspect and thoroughly check the covering of the foot when you remove the shoe. If the covering is damaged, make sure to have it fixed or replaced immediately.
If you have a more complex foot with hydraulics, similar to Endolite's Echelon, use your fingers to check for hydraulic fluid.
Make sure that your wedges are still there and the bumpers in good condition. If they are, you should feel that your prosthesis is soft during initial heel contact. Replace your rubber bumpers immediately if they don't feel too flexible or as resilient as usual. And make sure to do this regularly.
If you wear a carbon foot, replace the spectra sock and clean any carbon dust.
Just like maintaining cars, lubrication must be checked regularly, especially for some multiaxial feet. If at any time the prosthetic foot gets wet, remove it immediately and dry it as soon as possible. It also helps to dry the rest of the leg that gets wet.
Remove and clean your foot if sand and dirt manage to seep through. If they enter the ankle joint, take your limb to your prosthetist.
Regular visits to your prosthetist
Visit your prosthetist periodically to check the wear and tear of your prosthetic foot. This is the best way you can avoid costly repairs or emergency adjustments, as well as prevent injuries from failing prosthetic feet.
As the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure. So it’s best to follow the steps above to make sure your foot stays usable for a long time.