How To Navigate Winter Weather With Your Artificial Limb

How To Navigate Winter Weather With Your Artificial Limb

Monday, 07 December 2020 21:23

Winter is upon us here in the mountains of western North Carolina. It can be a magical time of year with frequent snowfall in the higher elevations. Asheville averages about a foot of snow annually, but Haywood County and the ridges on the Tennessee border often experience two feet or more from November to April. Residents of the area know that conditions can seemingly change in an instant, especially when traveling from one elevation to the other. 

For people with limb loss, navigating winter weather with your artificial limb can be challenging. We want to help you get through the season without incident. Here are five tips to help you stay safe during winter. 

Five Key Tips for Navigating Winter With Your Artificial Limb

1) Remain Weather Aware at All Times

One of the most important things you can do to ensure you remain safe during winter is by being weather aware. That means you know what kind of weather to expect where you are and will be during each day. That is especially challenging in western North Carolina because a few hundred feet of elevation can make a major difference in weather conditions. What is rain in the valley might be snow and ice just a few miles down the road. Here’s how you can make sure you are weather-ready:

  • Don’t rely on your weather app for forecasts. They are not magically able to predict the weather. They might provide some accuracy about “current conditions” but they are not meteorological forecasts. Use them, especially for alerts and warnings, but do not rely on them solely. 
  • Use the National Weather Service for the most accurate weather down to the neighborhood.
  • Follow local meteorologists on social media such as Jason Boyer, AshevilleWX Hunter Ward, Chris Justus, and Brad Panovich. They are more capable of telling you forecast specifics than national meteorologists like the Weather Channel. 
  • Use a weather radar app and make sure you know how to read it. Even if you see “green” on your radar, it is possible there is also snow or ice mixed in.
  • Know that the sun can make a major difference in conditions. Wet sidewalks in the daylight can become ice skating rinks at night.
  • Familiarize yourself with the specific dangers related to snow, sleet, and freezing rain. You may be able to travel more safely in snow than in sleet and freezing rain.

Being weather aware is helpful during every season, but especially winter in western North Carolina. 

2) Beware of Limb Volume Loss

Limb volume loss occurs when cold weather causes the shrinkage of blood vessels and reduced blood flow in the residual limb. Your artificial limb was likely custom made for your residual limb. Unfortunately, limb volume loss can cause your prosthetic to feel loose, which can be dangerous when walking on snow and ice. 

If you have a prosthetic leg, you may consider wearing extra thick socks if your device feels loose. If the issue persists, speak to your doctor, rehabilitation team, and prosthetic device developer. 

3) Watch Out for Dry Skin

Many people experience dry skin during winter; however, if you have experienced limb loss and wear a prosthetic device, your residual limb may be more sensitive to dryness. At the first sign of dry skin, ask your doctor and rehabilitation team to recommend a lotion that will help keep your skin appropriately moist. Use it to after you bathe or any time you remove your artificial limb. 

4) Use a Support Device

When winter weather hits the area, as much as is possible you will want to remain inside and avoid travel. However, you may find that you cannot wait until all the snow and ice melt before you go out. If you must venture into a winter wonderland, you might consider using a support device such as crutches or even a wheelchair. 

5) Aches and Pains

The cold may make your joints and muscles feel achy. It is a good idea to keep a low-temperature heating pad nearby. Fifteen minutes with the pad should help relieve some of the pain and soreness. However, if you are experiencing recurring, ongoing pain, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible. 

Orthopedic Appliance Company serves Asheville and the western North Carolina region with the highest quality prosthetic devices. You are our primary concern, and we are always here to help and answer your questions. We want to help those with limb loss enjoy winter and navigate the season safely. Contact us for more information about our prosthetic devices