Artwork by Millie Saunders
All the questions below have been put to me during my years as an amputee, either in person, via a comment on my social media or by direct message.
Don’t worry about me being upset if a question seems offensive or in bad taste, I’m pretty thick skinned and have already consented that they can be as weird or (potentially) offensive as you like.
Please understand that these are all my own personal opinions and experiences, I cannot speak for every single amputee out there.
Can you hammer nails with it?
I can tell you from experience that you absolutely can use them to hammer in nails. If however you plan to do so then make sure that you either have a good aim, or failing that, a short drive to your local A&E.
How expensive are they [prostheses] usually?
There is a massive price range when it comes to the various prosthetic devices out there. We are talking anywhere from four figures up to a hundred thousand and beyond.
When you start looking at specialised sporting prostheses the prices can get way up there and it’s important to remember that many of these pieces of equipment are very specific to one use. You can’t go for a walk through the park on a ski leg and running blades aren’t too comfortable for standing around an office.
This means that generally, these prostheses have to be bought extra to the one an amputee would use for regular every day life.
It places hefty price restrictions on many activities that most people take for granted.
Is it okay to swim if you have one?
Whilst I’m unsure about prosthetic arms, I can confirm that there are several types of waterproof legs which allow amputees to enter water without fear of rusting or a short circuit.
When it comes to actual swimming however, the weight of the leg can present some difficulties. Imagine you jumped into a swimming pool with a chunk of metal strapped to your thigh. Let’s just say that the old “lie on your back to float” trick doesn’t work too well.
With a little practice, it is possible to swim with certain legs, usually ones that have been deliberately designed for athletic activities as they cut down on weight and are generally more streamlined.
So, to answer the question in short, yes you can but I would practice in a pool before jumping into the middle of The Mediterranean with one on.
Have you ever caught/trapped your[self] putting it on?
I have slightly changed this question to make it PG but I’m sure most people know what it means.
Yes, I have often done this and yes, it is as painful as you can imagine. For some of us, tight underwear is an absolute must when it comes to an above knee prosthesis.
Concerning legs, is it possible to straighten them [prosthetic legs] out while sitting down?
I’m assuming that this is asking if I can straighten my leg while sat on a chair the same way I might stretch out my fleshy leg. In this case, no I can’t move the leg without physically interacting with it. I could use my hands to lift it and straighten it out but that is probably not quite what this question was asking.
If however, this is asking about sitting on the floor, then yes, having the leg straightened out is usually the most comfortable way to sit, unless it has a rotator attachment at the knee joint, in which case it can swivel around and the wearer can sit cross legged.
Much more natural looking and it takes up less space.
If you have any burning questions of your own, drop them down in the comments and keep an eye out for the answers in future posts…