The average person walks 10,000 steps every day. That’s a lot of flexing and extending. Even a high-end silicone sleeve intended for an active amputee can prematurely fail under those repetitive conditions. A comfortable prosthesis suspended by an awesome suspension sleeve is not enough to go unhampered throughout the day. Normal wear and tear can create pin holes or worse yet, tears in your sleeve, the smallest of which can allow air to enter into your socket, ruining suspension, causing discomfort and compromising the stability of your prosthesis.
Regardless of how comfortable your socket feels today, poor or no suspension can be an emotionally draining experience. Your suspension sleeve plays such a vital role within a prosthetic system, why not protect your investment and limit future headaches? It's relatively inexpensive to extend the life of your sleeve. Here are some tips to increase its life expectancy.
Clean your prosthetic sleeve regularly and properly
Keep your leg suspension sleeve clean, using a ph balanced prosthetic cleanser. Soil or a build up of perspiration can act as sandpaper and slowly wear out your sleeve. Whether your BK sleeve is made of neoprene, gel or any other type of material, it is best to check with the manufacturer about proper cleaning and maintenance. For some gel-type sleeves, the outside may be wiped with a prosthetic wipe, while the inside, which comes in contact with the skin, is usually cleaned using pH balanced soap and warm water, then patted dry with a lint-free towel or air-dried on a stand. Cleaning your sleeve regularly not only lengthens its life, but also prevents skin irritation such as rashes.
Protect your sleeve with a sleeve saver/gaitor
The constant flexion and extension from simply walking will eventually wear through your sleeve. Sleeve savers or gaitors are normally made of slick nylon placed in between your socket and suspension sleeve to protect your sleeve from sharp socket edges, extending its life by months. Whether you’re an avid runner or running a mile a minute at work, a sleeve gaitor will absorb the abuse that would otherwise be transferred to your sleeve. As an added bonus, a sleeve gaitor will also limit irritation over your knee cap when sitting.
Use prosthetic socket tape
Made of pressure-sensitive vinyl, prosthetic socket tape is installed onto your socket brim to provide a slick surface for your sleeve to travel over, and prevent wear along the knee area of your suspension sleeve.
Gel-Type sleeves come in different flavors ranging from silicone to TPE gel to mineral oil gel. Mineral oil gel is the least recommended, as it is comparatively more predisposed to premature failing. The constant repetitive flexing and extending that is normal for those who are active can destroy a sleeve in weeks. A simple sleeve gaitor can add months of life for you to enjoy the skin conditioning benefits of mineral oil gel.
Protect your sleeve with a cosmetic cover
Cosmetic covers come in various colors and designs to match your outfit and express yourself. Normally made of spandex, lycra and nylon, a cosmetic cover fitted over your suspension sleeve will protect it from outside elements that can cause rips, snags or holes.
A cosmetic cover also makes it easier to pull a pair of jeans over your prosthesis.
There are many options available for you to extend the life of your suspension sleeve. With proper care and a little investment, you can expect your sleeve to provide reliable suspension for a longer span of time.