What to Do Before Your Trip
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, over 49 million Americans — nearly 20 percent of the population — are living with disability. And of these 49 million Americans living with a disability, 1.7 million are amputees. Considering these numbers, plus the impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it’s no wonder that most firms involved in providing transportation and housing for travelers have made special arrangements to cater to the needs of people with disabilities.
Unfortunately, travelers with disabilities cannot afford to be nearly as carefree in making their travel arrangements as can able-bodied people. Travel-related firms simply don’t provide the same quality of special-needs services in all locations. Therefore, the challenge for travelers with disabilities is to foresee their special needs in detail and check carefully to ensure those needs are met every step of the way. The watchwords are: plan, check, and double-check. Unfortunately, even when this is done, things don’t always turn out as anticipated. Travelers should know how to protest and assert their rights when things go wrong.
Check Your Prosthesis You wouldn’t think of getting in your car and starting a long trip without first getting the car serviced and being certain that it’s in good operating condition. Why do less with your prosthesis?
Socket – Clean the socket with a mild, nonperfumed soap, using a washcloth. Allow it to air-dry or gently dry it with a soft cloth. Avoid using alcohol or commercial cleaners. If the prosthesis has a removable liner, take it out and check for small tears or glue separations at the seams. If you use a silicone suspension system, clean and inspect it in the same way.
Suspension – Inspect Velcro ® for frayed edges or weakness in grip. If it has picked up lint, use a brush to remove foreign particles. If your limb relies on a strap to secure it, check for signs of wear or fraying. Also check to see that the rivets holding it to the prosthesis are tight. Check loops or rings for indications of wear, rust or loose stitching.
Cover – Check for tears or loose glued areas. Since corrosive salt air and the sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage covers, depending on where you travel, you might want to bring along prosthetic skin.
General Maintenance – Check a lower-extremity prosthesis for looseness at the knee and foot. Listen for odd sounds that might indicate a worn or broken component. If you use an upper-extremity prosthesis, check for wear in the cable and harness.
Extra Things to Pack
Extra prosthetic socks
Extra socket liner
Duct and filament tape to repair strap or buckle breaks
Antibacterial cream for abrasions from overuse
Screwdriver with interchangeable bits
Spare suction valve
Plastic bags to protect your prosthesis if you wear it around water or sand
Phone numbers of certified prosthetists and prosthetic facilities in the area in which you are vacationing (you can get these by calling Amputee Coalition).
For additional information, link to our friends at, Amputee Coalition www.amputee-coalition.org/fact_sheets/travel.html