Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Broken Prosthetic - Temporary Repair

This morning I was greeted with a snap, crackle and POP! Unfortunately, it was not my Rice Krispies but my prosthetic limb...

The carbon in a Flex-Foot Modular III doesn't usually snap in two all at once - which is lucky since there would be a lot of face plants if it did. Instead, over time, it starts to fray, crack and the foot gets softer and softer. Eventually, the foot starts to go downhill a little faster - this is what happened today - the noises were just more serious cracks developing.

As you can see above (barely), the carbon is pretty screwed up. I am now flexing on about half as many strong strands as before. That means the foot is pretty soft.

Given the state of the carbon, this foot is pretty much at the end of it's useful lifespan. The problem is that I don't have a new one yet... Therefore I need to get out the defibrillators and squeeze an extra week or two out of this thing. You can see my efforts at that in the video below.

So the good news is I am back up on the foot.... The bad news is that it is screwed and going downhill fast. (And the new one will cost thousands...)

This fix should buy me the time I need to get a new one though. There is A LOT of satisfaction in fixing your own leg. More amputees should have the courage to tinker....

When it comes to prosthetic problems, failures and general issues to do with my leg I have learnt that I can play a large role in getting the most out of my equipment. I don't have to run down to my prosthetist once-a-week for minor tune-ups or to get a small adjustment made. I have learnt over time to do a lot of these things myself.

If you are an amputee here are a few general things I'd recommend:

1. Learn how your leg/arm works.

2. Ask your prosthetist lots of questions.

3. Watch your prosthetist work on your limb - (it's better than reading 4 year old magazines).

4. If your prosthetist won't let you watch ask "why not?" Then tell them you aren't comfortable with what they just said.... you want to understand how it works and how to take care of it.

5. Don't be afraid to try making an adjustment on your own - just don't do anything stupid and break the prosthetic.

6. When selecting prosthetic components be certain you understand why each one is the right one for you. Don't accept anyone else's opinion (no matter how highly trained they are) without thinking about it yourself.

7. Consider your options, ask opinions, read reviews.... these things cost as much as cars - you don't just go onto the lot and ask the salesman which car you should buy... so don't do that with your prosthetics.

8. Empower yourself by being a leader in your own care. Your doctor, physio, prosthetist, chiro, shrink, wife, husband, dad, mom etc... are your team but YOU need to be the captain.

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Chad Aaron Sayban said...

Wow! It stinks that it cracked but it sounds like you have dealt with this kind of thing before and are well prepared for it. I hope your new one comes in soon. They are sure not cheap, that's for sure.

Mike said...

That's great advice MJ, thanks. My current prosthetist has put the fear of god into me about adjusting my prosthetic but I've been starting to tinker with the ankle joint anyway. Just a little "toe-out" here and there makes a huge difference to my walk and I can take as many tries as I like to get it right without feeling like I'm holding up the next patient. Sorry to hear about the foot, hope the new one arrives in a jiffy!

Eileen Swanson said...

Wow, crazy! Sorry! How's Lulu life? Fun on this end!

Missy said...

Prosthetic or not, we should all take care of our limbs! People really are afraid to tinker around, bikes, cars, limbs, all of it. It's weird.

matt mccluskey said...

Before I even started the video, I thought, DUCK IT!

I have an extra wood-block Sach foot if you want it. It only weighs about 7 pounds (3.1 kg), and has NO flex what-so-ever. (i.e. it will shock your knee and hip joints like never before.)

Jill Costantino said...

That's CRAZY!!!! Good on you for fixing it yourself! I agree with Missy - we should all look after our limbs:)

Hey - are you up for swimming on Saturday am around 6:00 am? Let's see if we can get another group together.


swimbikerunryan said...

Way to go McGuyver!!!
a little spit and bubble gum and you are good to go...man, how often do they break? and this is all outta your pocket? bummer:( Haha, but remember the gret advice i got for triathlon, and apply it to your life "This sport is expensive for everybody...." HA....i'd love to see what they'd say bout a broken prosthetic..
Some people just don't get it...even though i don't have a missing limb, i totally agree with your thoughts to tinker yourself, empowerment is the key to advancement.