Traveling With Your New Artificial Limb

Traveling With Your New Artificial Limb

Tuesday, 05 October 2021 13:10

It’s hard to believe it’s already almost the most wonderful time of the year. ‘Tis the season for eating too much and spending time with the people who matter most in your life. 

It has been a challenging eighteen months, so we are looking forward to the holiday season more than ever. We all can use a break and enjoy the opportunity to rest and relax.

However, if you are adjusting to life with an artificial limb, the prospect of traveling with your new prosthetic device may be daunting. We want to help you travel well with your new artificial limb this holiday season. 

Here are five tips for getting around with your prosthetic device. 

How to Travel Smoothly With a Prosthesis

1 learn about accommodations

1) Learn As Much As Possible about Your Accommodations

Developing your new routine is one of the most important steps for effectively adjusting to life with your new artificial limb. You have worked to set up your home to ensure you can get around efficiently and you know where everything you need is located. 

Whether you are staying in a hotel, vacation rental, or with family, your lodging isn’t going to be set up the same as your home. 

It is vital to find out as much about your accommodations as you can before you pack for your trip. It will be invaluable to know what will be available to you and what you will need. If you can, communicate your specific needs to your host. 

2) Pack According to What You Will Need

When it comes to using and caring for your prosthetic device, you are the expert. You know what you need every day, so you will need to pack accordingly. It is best to take what you need most with you in your carry-on luggage. 

Some of these items include:

  • Your prosthetic socks
  • Lotion and ointment for your residual limb
  • Chargers if your artificial limb is powered by electricity
  • Shrinkers and extra liners
  • Sealing sleeve (more than one)
  • Allen key (4mm)
  • An extra set of clothes, toiletries, and other necessities

Even if there is a chance your host has some of these items, it may not be a bad idea to get used to packing your essentials. 

arrive earlier

3) Know What to Expect in the Airport

For those who are new to life with an artificial limb, your experience at the airport will be different than it was before. Here are a few tips for navigating airports with your prosthetic devices. 

Choose Your Seat if Possible

Some airlines give passengers the option of choosing their seat for a small additional fee. This could help you secure a seat that is more comfortable and accommodating for you.

Arrive Earlier Than the Traditionally Recommended Times

The check-in process may take longer than it once did. While airlines recommend arriving an hour before a domestic flight and two hours before an international flight, you should consider adding thirty extra minutes. 

What to Expect from TSA

Here is an overview of what you can expect during the security screening process. 

  • As part of the screening process, security officers will need to see and touch your prosthetic device, cast, or support brace.
  • You will not be asked to remove your artificial limb, cast, or support brace by security officers.
  • Do not remove or even offer to take off your device. 
  • You can ask for a private screening or refuse one. If you refuse a private screening, prepare for it to happen in public. 
  • You are allowed to be assisted by a companion. 

Generally, TSA will try to be as accommodating as possible. You have every right to expect them to be as accommodating as possible. 

Check-In With Your Flight Attendants Before Boarding

Before your flight begins boarding, you should check in with your flight attendant. At this point, you will be able to arrange an aisle seat and potentially be able to move forward if there are seats available closer to the front of the plane. 

The Differently-Abled Board First

Don’t forget; you will be allowed to board before other guests. This may be new for you, so make sure you’re not in line for a cinnamon bun when boarding begins. 

Sitting Could Cause Swelling

It is not at all uncommon for swelling to occur while you are on the plane. You may need to get up and walk the aisle every forty-five minutes or so to reduce swelling. You can also consider wearing a prosthetic shrinker. 

Airline travel can be a new challenge, but once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll be a pro.

avoid busiest travel days

4) Avoid the Busiest Travel Days

One of your goals will be avoiding as much time in traffic in a vehicle or in crowds in the airport. There are a handful of travel days during the holiday season that you should avoid at all possible, including:

  • The Wednesday before Thanksgiving
  • The Weekend of Thanksgiving (Saturday and Sunday)
  • The Saturday before Christmas
  • The Saturday and Sunday after Christmas

Although it may be challenging in shopping centers, Black Friday isn't always the worst day to be on the road or in an airport. 

Be Mindful of the Weather

An otherwise slow holiday season travel day can turn into a nightmare if the weather becomes a factor. You don’t want to be stuck in an airport for hours or overnight. You certainly don’t want to find yourself on a crowded, snowy interstate in traffic that’s not moving. Here are a few quick tips for getting ahead of the weather:

  • Check the forecast using The National Weather Service. This will be more accurate than the weather app that comes with your smartphone. 
  • Follow local meteorologists like Jason Boyer, Chris Justus, and Brad Panovich on social media. They provide in-depth breakdowns of the forecast for our area. 
  • Check the weather at your destination. If possible, find and follow local meteorologists from that area. 
  • Check the weather between your departure location and your destination. The weather may be fine everywhere except the city in which you have a layover. If you’re driving, there may be some travel trouble spots you can drive around if you have advanced warning. 
  • Contact your airline and make sure flights are running on time with no sign of delay or cancelation before you arrive at the airport. 

You can avoid a lot of inconvenience by scheduling your travel around the busiest days and inclement weather.

5) Ask Your Doctors and Rehabilitation Team for Advice

Your rehabilitation is an ongoing process. You may be just beginning your journey with an artificial limb. Your doctors and rehabilitation team are there for you to make sure you have the best mobility possible. Ask them for advice regarding traveling with your prosthetic device. 

A few questions you might ask include:

  • Am I ready to fly in an airplane?
  • How can I avoid or reduce swelling while flying?
  • How frequently should I stop and get out of the car?
  • What should I carry in my bags?
  • How should I tell my family and friends what I need?

You and your team will know best how ready you are for travel. The more you do it, the more you will be able to establish a travel routine. We hope you enjoy the holiday season and get to spend as much time as you can with the people who matter most in your life!

At Orthopedic Appliance Company, we have been developing the highest-quality custom orthopedic and prosthetic devices in the Asheville area for over sixty years. We would be happy to answer questions you might have about traveling with your artificial limb. 

If you or a loved one has experienced an amputation, we would be honored to work with you and your doctors to develop an artificial limb that will help improve your mobility and restore your quality of life. 

Contact us for more information about prosthetic devices in western North Carolina.