Top 3 Tips for Navigating Ice as an Amputee

Posted on: January 4th, 2016 by JPO Blogger

navigating snow

Whether you’re new to prosthetics or an old pro, winter snow, slush and ice makes each outdoor trek a feat requiring second-to-second focus. The team at JP&O Prosthetic & Orthotic Lab advises you take the following precautions to stay safe and mobile this season:

The Right Grip Matters

You put snow tires on your car to stop skidding – why not treat your feet to the same? Boots or tennis shoes with rubberized grips help provide much-needed traction, whereas flats, high heels, and hard-soled dress shoes will send you slipping. Rubber grips or spikes for your soles can be purchased from outdoor and sporting stores, and they fit snugly over your shoes to provide extra grip when you need it.

Know Your Snow

Adapting to your surroundings is critical. A stomping technique on one surface could get you stuck in another, so perfect your balance and gait for different snow situations you might encounter. On icy, tightly compacted snow, focus on short, slow, and solid steps that distribute your weight between heel and toe evenly, maximizing your contact with the ground and keeping your feet squarely under you. When the snow is fresher, try to step where others have before you, which helps prevent stutter steps that send you tumbling. If you have to walk through deeper snow, lift your legs for each step, creating a new and separate hole rather than dragging your feet through the drifts, which distributes your weight unevenly and limits the risk of falls.

Lean on Supports

Even if you’ve taken your prosthesis on many a snowy test drive, additional supports never hurt. Canes, crutches, and walkers provide extra balance and peace of mind in the midst of icy walkways and uneven drifts. If the support is smooth-ended, consider purchasing ice tips for your cane or crutch at a local pharmacy to prevent your walking aid from sliding right out from under you. These assistants are particularly recommended for double or above-knee amputees who may need additional stability.

Don’t let winter weather keep you cooped up until spring. We want you to walk boldly – and securely – no matter the weather. For more advice to maneuver your prosthetic through the season, give JP&O Prosthetic & Orthotic Lab a call!

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