Retrofitting Your Bathroom After an Arm Amputation
by Amber Henson, on Feb 17, 2020
The kitchen may be a daunting room after an amputation — but you can always get by with sandwiches and store-bought soups for some time. But the bathroom? Trying to get away with not applying deodorant for weeks may not work for you.
Be sure to ask your therapist for help with making your bathroom more accessible. At Arm Dynamics, we will often create custom rigs to help our patients manage better in the bathroom so that they can get ready for their day before donning their prosthetic device. But depending on your level of amputation, commercially available products might be able to help you modify your bathroom so it will work for you.
Please note that none of the below links to products are not recommendations — they are just ideas to help get the bathroom modification process started.
Automatic dispensers can be filled with shampoo, conditioner, soap, shaving gel and whatever else you may need.
As for getting the soap everywhere on your body you need it to be, you might find a long-handled body washer helpful. This can be attached to a surface in your shower via suction cups or a gooseneck clamp (see below for more information about goosenecks) and the sponge used on the scrubber can be thrown in the washing machine.
Again, a dispenser can help out. Your sound hand can squirt the toothpaste onto your waiting toothbrush. Or, you can move away from the tube entirely — tablet toothpaste is a newer product option. You can find more tips about teeth brushing in our article: "Bathroom Routine Hacks for People with a Limb Difference."
These suction nail clippers may be of help. Depending on your level of amputation, you may be able to use your residual limb to clip the inserted nail on your sound hand. Or most prosthetic devices should be able to push the clipping lever down, regardless of the device’s grip abilities.
If you used to brush your hair with one hand while using a hair dryer with the other hand, that process is still feasible with a hair dryer stand.
Take a look at our article about hand washing for that everyday need.
For deodorant rigs, one of our technicians, Cullen, has found that microphone stands work best. You can find either table stand ones like the one linked to above, or clamps. Adjustable goosenecks are what you’re looking for — something that can be modified with universal fittings so that you can use them for a variety of needs. Either of the types above would need to be fitted with a microphone clamp to create that universal fitting. Take a look around the Internet using the above keywords to find what fits your budget and style needs.
Speaking of underarms, for those who choose to shave them, those same adjustable goosenecks can be installed in the shower to hold a disposable razor or outside the shower to hold an electric razor. And if you would like to apply lotion to the recently shaved area, you can find lotion applicators with washable foam heads. Another option would be to use in-shower lotion, like Nivea Shower Body Lotion, applied with the body washer mentioned in the shower section of this article.
All of the above is great, you might say, but how can I get the liquids I need into those dispensers if I’m having a hard time opening containers using just my sound hand and my residual limb? Dycem is the answer. You’ll find this non-slip gripping mat to be most helpful in the bathroom, kitchen and beyond. Just keep in mind that it loses its anti-slip properties when wet, so don’t take it into the shower with you.
For those with bilateral upper limb loss, please see our article, "Bathroom Hacks for People with a Bilateral Limb Difference."
How else can we help you get a handle on your bathroom routine? Leave a comment below or drop us a line. Or tell us in the comments your best bathroom modification tip!
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