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4 Prosthetic Options for Enjoying the Pool this Summer

Posted by Bryan Potok, CPO on

We're often asked if sleeves can keep water from seeping through your socket and sadly, the answer is no—chlorine can ruin your prosthetic along with its accessories. If you're a lower limb amputee looking to go for a dip in the pool this summer, you came to the right place! There are several options available, so you can beat the heat and spend some time by the poolside.

Prosthetic leg options for enjoying the pool this summer.

(photo courtesy of Ottobock)

Water Prosthetic Legs

Avoid premature corrosion by exposing your prosthesis to water. Water legs, such as the Aulie knee, X3 microprocessor knee, and Aqua-Foot, are just some of the devices that you can completely submerge in water. Others, like the C-Leg 4, are merely water-resistant, meaning they can only tolerate a limited amount of water exposure (i.e., walking in the rain).

The great thing about water legs is that it's easy to move in and out of the pool and you don't need to worry about where to place your prosthetic legs. However, most insurance companies don't include them in their coverage plans, so additional care is required from your end. Water resistance may also make it hard to bend and straighten out your prosthetic knee.

Old or Back-Up Prosthesis 

While this is more of an affordable option, it's like using a very high mileage car for a 24-hour road trip—it's risky and not advisable. It's very rare for people to have back-up prosthetic limbs that are fully functional and that properly fit, as there is a reason why they're no longer in use.

Waterproof Covers

A quick fix for below-knee amputees would be a waterproof cover such as Dry Pro. It's a practical and easy alternative that won't require you to use a separate prosthesis. The downside is that this option is not available for above knee prosthetics. If the seal is compromised, your prosthesis may still be in danger of getting damaged.

No Prosthesis

Many amputees may choose to forego their prosthesis in the pool and use wheelchairs or crutches during transfers. Some individuals living with limb loss actually prefer swimming without their prosthesis. Also, avoiding water and not putting your prosthetic limb at risk will obviously prolong the life of your artificial limb. Remember to practice utmost care—crutches may slip and hinder movement, and know that wheelchairs are more often used at the beach.

Tips to Enjoy Swimming Pools

Choose pools that have railings, lifts, and zero-threshold graduated entry options to make it easier for you to get in and out. You can call ahead and ask if your community pool offers these amenities. If you wish to combine exercise with fun, you can use foot and hand flippers to increase your speed while doing laps in the pool. Lastly, have fun and stay confident—after all, it's summer! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and enjoy the long days of sunshine whether in or out of the pool.

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  • It’s been three years now since I lost my right leg below the knee. Still seems all new to me. I miss swimming in the ocean alot. I go swimming in a pool that has steps. I take my leg off for that. Feel so free when I am swimming in a pool. But really miss the ocean alot

    Jolene Fuller on

  • I use a wheelchair and a lift chair that’s the best way for me I’m enjoying the pool

    Ida Norman on

  • My husband has used the waterproof covering but water still gets in. Wish there was a way to get a waterproof prosthetic with insurance!

    Lisa Davis on

  • Not many options for a bilateral bk except old sockets or out of pocket swim legs.

    Judy Edwards on

  • I am a below the knee amputee, My insurance won’t pay for a water leg, either. Because I have significant balance issues, I avoid crutches. I would be interested in looking at the waterproof covers, but I have an adjustable socket prosthesis and am worried about water getting inside the channels where the adjustable cords run and ruining my very expensive prosthesis. I wish I knew of someone who had tried the covers. I haven’t been in a pool or the ocean for over 10 years and would love to be able to swim again. My roommate & I just bought a hot tub a couple of months ago & I have yet to use it.

    Laura Waddell on

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