House Cleaning with an Upper Limb Prosthetic Device
by Amber Henson, on May 23, 2023
When being fit with a new prosthesis or terminal device, there can be a lot of questions. Your device will be useful and help with daily tasks, but which tasks and how? In this article, we’ll be exploring how you can use your prosthesis to help with standard housekeeping tasks and how to keep your device from getting damaged.
Carina Geraldez, one of our Clinical Therapy Specialists, points out that before you begin a task, keep in mind that your terminal device is a tool. She sees a lot of people who want to just dive in and use their new prosthesis for everything — especially those who have been fit with a multi-articulating myoelectric hand. For people who have one sound hand, why hold a wet cleaning cloth with an electric prosthesis? It could damage the device, and your hand will probably work better. Before each new task you tackle in the weeks and months after being fit with a new device, stop and think: Is my prosthesis the best tool for the job? Do I need to modify the task or approach it in a different way? Prostheses are excellent tools, but they have limitations. If you understand and respect these limitations, you’ll have a working prosthesis for years to come.
To learn more about which devices are waterproof and/or water-resistant, please see our article, “Waterproof and Water-Resistant Upper Limb Prostheses.” Don’t forget that some devices that are water resistant may not do well when exposed to cleaning products. Additionally, devices that aren’t water resistant might be too sensitive to handle a “damp” task like taking wet clothes out of the washing machine. Our Arm Dynamics specialized clinical team educates our patients extensively when they are fit with their device. To learn more about multi-articulating myoelectric hands, please see our article, “Introduction to Multi-Articulating Myoelectric Hands.”
Here are a few tips you may find helpful when cleaning the house:
- Utilize foam grip tubing or tape to build up cylindrical surfaces (like a broom handle) in order to make gripping easier and more secure.
- If gripping a broom or vacuum is too difficult or causes pain, use your sound hand to make the sweeping motion and your prosthesis to help stabilize the broom or vacuum. Your affected arm becomes your support side and reduces fatigue.
- Try using your terminal device without moving the digits to do a task first. This can be easier and more efficient. If you’re picking up a laundry basket, there’s no need to spend time and energy to actively grasp the basket if you can just lift it or slide the fingers into the handle.
To really get the most out of your device and be most efficient with your tasks, a Clinical Therapy Specialist is invaluable. Each one of our occupational and physical therapists gives our patients individualized tips and can replicate tasks in our center, or the patient’s home. This allows the therapist to observe the patient for things that can create overuse issues, like elevating shoulders or using the sound hand too much.
If you would like to learn more about house cleaning with a prosthetic device, please contact us. If you would like to leave a comment below regarding this subject, we would welcome it! We hope you have found this article helpful.