I recently spoke with a long-term double above-knee amputee about what equipment he found useful. His answer: “I don’t know, I just do it if it needs doing”. It was clear that a lot of the equipment he now uses he only came across well after his amputations, simply because “you don’t know what you don’t know”. So here is a list of some equipment or as we like to call it, “assistive technology” which might be useful for those with leg amputation.
1. Let’s start with the obvious, but oh so amazing – prosthetic legs. These now come with Bluetooth connectivity to your smartphone to program settings for different activities. This is an exciting and ever-developing world of prosthetic technology.
2. The other obvious one – a really good wheelchair. I’m not talking about just any off the shelf wheelchair. This is where working with your Occupational Therapist and Wheelchair rep is so important to ensure features, such as seat angle, axle height, push rims, brakes, back rest, the chair’s centre of gravity, and heaps of other features all work in combination to achieve the most effective and comfortable ride to meet your needs.
3. You’re going to need to get that wheelchair around, but how? Wheelchair hoists, such as the Wymo wheelchair hoist, can be fitted to the roof of your car to allow you to easily get your chair on and off your car to take it where you need, without busting your shoulders getting it in and out of the boot.
4. What about carrying things when in a wheelchair? One of my amputee clients tells a story of shopping as a new amputee and throwing his shopping in a bag over the back handles of the wheelchair. This added weight at the back, and with no legs to equalise the weight at the front, you guessed it, he tipped backwards out of the chair. So, the lap becomes the preferred carrying position. The good old plastic Coles / Woollies shopping baskets work alright, balanced on your thighs, but what if you need your hands? What if you need to lean forward to reach something? This is where a product I have only just learnt about comes in. The LapStacker Belt is a retractable belt which is fitted to your chair and can be clipped around anything you want to carry on your lap to hold it there. I love those equipment items which are brilliant in their simplicity and practicality, and this is definitely one of those.
Innovation, trial and error, and a good attitude also come in handy, which thankfully, my awesome amputee client has in spades! But a little help from equipment never goes astray! Talk to your Occupational Therapist about options that might help you to do the things you want to do; you never know what equipment is out there ready to assist you!