As summer creeps up on us quickly, I look forward to spending time outside and enjoying the beautiful sunny weather. Many of us start wearing cooler clothing such as shorts and short-sleeved shirts so that we can be active but also stay cool. Unfortunately, as I listen to some patients, I hear a great deal of concern about how their prostheses are too hot in the summertime. I can’t imagine what it would be like to wear a hard socket, with possibly a thick gel liner, and maybe even some layers of socks in the middle of the summer. Then, I started to think about ways to help an amputee stay cool in the summer.
Socket color is one this I took into consideration. A dark-colored socket would most likely attract the heat from the sun more so than a lighter colored socket. Also, the type of liner might make a difference. I would assume that a thinner liner might keep a residual limb cooler whereas a thick, gel liner would create for a more heat friendly environment.
How about a prosthesis made for swimming? I knew a practitioner who made one of his patients a leg that had a flipper style foot so that his patient could use it to swim. Any prosthesis that could be worn in the water would be a great idea for those who like water activities or simply spending time in a pool.
I once heard a story about a patient who drilled holes in his socket to allow for air circulation one summer. Even though drilling holes in a socket is in not an ideal situation, unfortunately, some patients will take matters into their own hands. Hopefully, we can find a way to help our patients stay cool in the summer as they continue their outdoor activities. If anyone has any other ideas please let me know.