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Small legCare of the Residual Limb and Prosthesis

Residual Limb Care

(Also available in a .pdf format published by the New South Wales Artificial Limb Service.)
Examine the residual limb when the prosthesis is removed each night, for areas of excessive redness or irritation, or swelling. Check the fitting and make sure that there are no pressure parts. If redness, irritation or swelling persists, report this immediately to your clinic or medical practitioner.

Wash the residual limb daily with soap and water, rinse and dry carefully. Do not soak as this makes the skin tender. The best time to cleanse the residual limb is at night, it should not be washed in the morning unless a residual limb sock is worn. The residual limb must be thoroughly dry before applying the socket. If perspiring excessively during the day, remove socket and pat residual limb dry. Examine the residual limb each night for any excessive redness, pressure points, irritation , swelling or skin breakdown. Stop wearing your prosthesis while waiting for a breakdown to heal. Report any problems to your clinic.

Do not shave the residual limb or apply lotions or moisturisers to your residual limb. If excessive perspiration causes discomfort, discuss this with the doctor in charge of your clinic, if relevant an anti- perspirant may be prescribed, however these should be used with caution and exactly as prescribed.

Any changes in body weight will alter the fit of the prosthesis. If for some reason you lose or gain weight, report this immediately to your clinic or medical practitioner.

Prosthesis Care

A prosthesis is a mechanical device and as such requires regular maintenance and care. If there is any unusual sign, (visible, audible or functional) it should be inspected by a prosthetist as soon as possible.

The prostheses is designed for use in normal conditions and environments. It has not been designed for use in:

The Socket. For optimum function of your prosthesis, daily cleaning of the interior of the socket is required. Clean with a sponge or soft cloth and a little mild soap. Inaccessible points can be reached with an old tooth brush. Poke towelling in to dry inside. Leave to dry thoroughly overnight. Clean the exterior in a similar way when necessary.

Stump Socks. Are indicated for protection of the skin, for greater comfort and to absorb perspiration. Change daily and wash by hand with mild soap (not detergent) and water, any soap left in the sock may irritate the skin. The sock must fit snugly, without wrinkles, to avoid pressure points on the residual limb.

Silicone Socks/ liners Avoid contact with ball point pens, newsprint, vegetable dies etc which will leave a permanent stain. Follow manufactures instructions for cleaning ( this differs for manufacturers). Regularly inspect attachment points for signs of wear or tears, see your prosthetist if the attachment looks worn.

Leather parts Keep clean and dry. Use saddle soap to clean any leather parts.

Webbing Wash straps with soap and warm water.

Valves in suction socket Clean the base of the valve and the opening into the socket with a soft brush to remove any accumulation of powder or other substance. If the valve has poor function, see your prosthetist.

Mechanical Parts / Components.

  1. A frequent maintenance check-up with your prosthetist is essential for maintenance and optimal function..
  2. Do not adjust screws, hinges or other parts of your prosthesis yourself.
  3. Any excessive noise or grating during use should be reported to your prosthetist.
  4. Any dust ( often black) should be reported to your prosthetist.
  5. Where prosthesis is fitted with an hydraulic knee joint, store in upright position only.
Upper Limb.
1. Terminal Device.
a) Split hook. Apply an occasional drop of very light machine oil on the hinged bearing of the hook. Any sign of wear should be reported to your therapist or prosthetist. Rubber bands - renew frequently, they are not effective when perished.
b) Cosmetic Hand. Wash the outer glove with mild soap and water. (Cover the glove when reading a newspaper).
2. The Cable. Report to your prosthetist if it is worn, bent or frayed so that it can be replaced.
3. Storage. Lie flat, do not hang by cable or harness.

Clothing. For the upper limb, a T-shirt should be worn under the harness to protect the skin from chaffing by the harness and axilla loop. For the lower limb, the height of shoes must be identical. Have your shoes repaired when worn.

Do not attempt to repair your prosthesis yourself.

Further information can be obtained by contacting: REHABTech
Print this fax form if you are unable to send us email

260-294 Kooyong Rd.,
Caulfield, Vic. AUSTRALIA.3162
Tel. (IDD +61 3) 9528 1960
Fax. (IDD +61 3) 9528 1077 
REHABTech: A part of the Centre For Biomedical Engineering,
Department of Electrical And Computer Systems Engineering, Monash University , Australia.
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Copyright & copy; 1998 Monash University - All Rights Reserved - Disclaimer
Authorised & Maintained by Ross Stewart, Rehabilitation Engineer
Last updated: May 26, 2000