Bathroom Hacks for People with a Bilateral Limb Difference
by Amber Henson, on Jul 6, 2021
At Arm Dynamics we have had some charming patients who’ve had bilateral amputations or congenital limb differences. Jason Koger, Gerry Kinney and Jameson Davis are a few bilateral patients that we have had the honor to accompany on the prosthetic rehabilitation journey and now are considered close friends.
For people with bilateral amputations, prosthetic devices are the key to being able to perform their everyday home and work tasks from sunup to sundown. But those devices don’t always work perfectly in the bathroom. In this article, we’ll explore various hacks that our on-site therapists have developed, often in conjunction with our patients, to find ways to get ready at the start of the day or wind down at the end.
Just like in our first bathroom hacks blog, we’ll start with toothbrushing. One of the ways to have a toothbrush (electric or manual) at the correct height is gooseneck clamping. That item is quite indispensable for the use of several bathroom products, including razors (see below on the right), deodorants, hair dryers and more. Creating a gooseneck holder can be extremely helpful, and here are two easy methods: insert piano wire inside plastic air conditioning tubing or use an adjustable microphone stand with clamps attached.
The gooseneck can be adjusted so that the bathroom item is in the correct location for the person to use body motion against the item to accomplish the intended task. Looking for an inexpensive one that is easily accessible? The BESTEK may be of help. The bottom clamp is strong, and the top clamp can hold onto bathroom items without a lot of assembly.
Gerry Kinney uses an elastic arm band that slides onto his residual limb to hold his toothbrush and other items (including his utensils when he eats without his prosthetic devices on).
You’ll notice Gerry’s shower in the bathroom. Strategically placed sponges, automatic soap dispensers and faucet levers (like those below) can make showering a more independent affair. A bare back scrubber can also be helpful.
There are even full body dryers, like the one pictured below, which you can see in Gerry’s shower in the video above. The dryer is the long white object in the corner. You can also see some body sponges connected to automatic soap dispensers (which you can also see in the photo at the top of this article).
If the gooseneck clamps don't work for you for razors and deodorants there are other ways to shave or apply deodorant allow the person to use their residual limbs. One of our therapists took these picture at an Enhancing Skills for Life event:
The first photo shows the razor placed into a dowel to extend the razor. With the dowel, it’s easier for a person to hold the razor between their shortened limbs while shaving their face. The next two photos show a hinge placed on a spray deodorant can. The hinge acts as a lever and lets a person point the spray nozzle at their underarm and then push down on the hinge with their residual limb to activate the spray can. The lever is just a door hinge that can be purchased from a hardware store.
Our on-site therapists work closely with all our patients, but especially with bilateral amputees, to figure out hacks for Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), including, if possible, traveling to our patients’ homes, and sometimes calling our technicians into service.
You can also check out our other blogs on similar subjects: Home Improvements to Make After an Upper Limb Amputation, Kitchen Tips for Upper Limb Amputees - Cutting and Chopping, Retrofitting Your Bathroom After an Arm Amputation, Bathroom Routine Hacks for People with a Limb Difference and our most popular article (as of the beginning of 2022): Life Hacks for People with Upper Limb Loss (which also features several tips from Gerry Kinney).
Have any questions? Please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below. Are you looking for help with a particular obstacle you are facing? Let us see if we can help you. Thanks for learning more with us, and please let us know of any other hacks you would like us to explore.
For more Arm Dynamics articles, see related resources here: