Winter weather brings increased mobility challenges with ice- or snow-covered surfaces. Balance problems due to a missing limb, the inability to feel a prosthetic foot’s position on the ground, and difficulty controlling a prosthetic knee put amputees at greater risk for falls, and slick surfaces add to the danger. As a result, many amputees may stay at home in icy or snowy conditions and miss out on great opportunities.
Fortunately, proper preparation can alleviate many of the risks and enable you to get out and enjoy life in the winter. The following tips may help:
- Be aware of the risks.
- Pay attention, and walk carefully.
- Clear the snow and ice from your porch, steps, and walkways. This can include shoveling and using products that either melt ice and snow or prevent them from accumulating. In addition to commercial ice-melt products, kitty litter melts ice and provides grip. Another strategy is to spread sawdust over icy areas so that if the ice thaws and refreezes, the sawdust provides a textured surface.
- Use textured anti-slip paint or tape on your porch, steps, and walkways. You can purchase these items at home improvement stores.
- Wear good winter boots or attach removable cleats to your footwear for better traction.
- Use cross-country ski poles or a cane with a tip to provide additional stability in ice and snow. These are available online and at many pharmacies.
- Be careful when entering buildings where tracked-in ice or snow can melt and make the floor wet and slippery.
- Build up your muscles through exercise to make your body less susceptible to injury during a fall.
- Learn to prevent falls and how to fall with a lower risk of injury. Various sports, fitness programs, physical therapy sessions, and special fall courses may help you develop the strength, balance, agility, and techniques to prevent a fall or reduce your risk of injury if you do fall.
- Realize when it’s too dangerous to go out, and stay home. In some cases, it’s just not worth the risk.