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Camping with a Prosthesis

Posted in: Amputee, Prosthetic

Posted on: by Level Four

Camping with a Prosthesis

Nicknamed “The Bionic Hiker”, Scott Rogers became the first above-the-knee amputee to hike the Appalachian Trail in 2004 at the age of 35. Only an estimated 12,000 people have completed the arduous 2,179 mile hike, but Rogers made history for defying the odds by tackling the trail.

Your summer plans might not include the Appalachian Trail, but if you hope to backpack for the first time with a prosthesis, take a couple of tools out of Rogers’ bag to be the happiest camper possible:

  • Choose socks wisely. Cotton socks, though light and easy to pack, will absorb sweat as you hike without drying, causing uncomfortable chafing, skin irritation, and blisters on your residual limb. Opt for wool, which not only absorbs sweat and backsplash from puddles, but provides maximum cushioning to soften the blow of a long day of wear. Synthetic fibers are also excellent options, as they quickly wick liquid away from the skin, leaving you clean and dry.
  • Pack light. Bringing only the bare essentials is a common rule for backpacking, but it’s especially critical for prosthesis wearers. Too much weight for a prolonged time can upset your balance and place undue stress on lower limbs, creating strain and sores. However, your kit should always include tape to repair buckles and straps, extra socks and liners, and plastic bags to put around your prosthesis when near water or sand.
  • Keep prosthetic inside your tent. If your hike includes an overnight posting up in the wilderness, take care of your prosthesis by storing it in your tent. Leaving it exposed outside will make it collect dew overnight, creating a wet and irritable fit the next day. If you’re camping out sans tent, make sure it’s covered with a tarp or some other waterproof covering.
  • Invest in hiking poles. Aiding your balance, relieving strain on your back and lower body, and even upping the calorie burn of your workout, hiking poles can be your biggest assist on your trek. Adjust the poles so they’re at your belt line, and adjust accordingly for inclines and declines.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Unpaved trails, constant changes in inclines, and obstacles blocking your path require balance and agility. Begin training a few weeks before your multi-mile hike, and start small by walking on natural trails in local parks. Add your hiking gear a week before these trial runs to practice balancing with an extra load.

What trails are you dreaming of blazing this summer? Let one of our experts at Orthotics & Prosthetics by Design know, and we’ll help prepare you for your adventure!