Bionic Hands: Safety, Care, & Common Concerns
You’ve spent the time and money finding the perfect bionic hand, getting it to fit just right, and learning how to use it. But, after a long day of wearing your hand, you’re experiencing discomfort and notice that it needs a clean - so how do you properly care for your hand?
Properly caring for your bionic hand is essential to maintaining its function and condition, but it can be challenging to know where to start. This is a common concern for new bionic hand users, so here’s everything you need to know about the safety and care of your bionic hand (and yourself).
Cleaning and Maintenance
High-functioning, multi-articulating hands are designed to make users’ day-to-day life easier, providing them with dexterity and autonomy. With this in mind, bionic hands are highly durable - after all, users shouldn’t hesitate to use their hand. That being said, just like any limb, bionic hands can get dirty. Users should regularly clean their hand to ensure optimal function and overall hygiene.
However, unlike other limbs, bionic hands are a piece of technology - no matter how similar they function to real hands. With this in mind, users need to clean their bionic hand as such.
To clean a bionic hand, users can wipe it down with a damp cloth, careful not to expose the hand to too much water. Similarly, users should clean their socket regularly, but this can be done with soap and water.
It’s important that users try to avoid getting too much dirt or similar substances on their bionic hand. While a little bit of dirt or water won’t break the device, too much can impede function. After all, it is a piece of technology, so treat it as you would your phone or laptop in this regard.
Users should also have the prosthesis examined and serviced annually to ensure it is in working order. To do so, they can visit their local prosthetist. However, if users have concerns over the technical aspects, they can take advantage of the remote configuration capabilities of their hand. This feature allows users to have their hand configured remotely, so users do not need to physically visit their prosthetist for such adjustments.
Another notable aspect of maintaining your bionic hand is charging it regularly. While bionic hands can hold a battery charge for nearly two days, users want to avoid getting stuck with an uncharged hand at an inconvenient time. With this in mind, be sure to charge the hand when it’s not in use.
Comfort and Care
While caring for your bionic hand is crucial, it’s also essential that you care for yourself - in particular, your residual limb. There are two components to caring for your residual limb: cleaning and safety.
Prostheses are designed and fitted by a prosthetist, paired with a custom-fitting socket for user comfort. But, while the socket is meant to improve comfort for users, that doesn’t eliminate discomfort entirely, especially after hours of use. Many prosthesis users find their residual limb to become sore after prolonged use, experiencing chafing and irritation from the bionic hand. In some extreme cases, users may experience blisters or infections.
Unfortunately, some discomfort is inevitable. 74% of amputees have skin issues associated with prosthetic devices. However, there are some best practices you can perform to minimize this discomfort as much as possible, as well as avoid any health implications.
First and foremost, if users have recently undergone amputation, they should ensure that swelling has gone down, their incision is entirely healed, and get cleared for prosthetic use by their doctor before wearing the bionic hand. Doing so will help avoid infection and any unnecessary discomfort.
Once users are healed and begin wearing their prostheses, it’s important to clean their residual limb regularly. Consult your doctor or prosthetist regarding proper hygiene. It’s also helpful to regularly examine the device for loose parts or damage to ensure that it is not injuring you, as well as examining your own body for signs of irritation.
If users are experiencing irritation, please consult your physician or prosthetist as they will have suggestions to keep your limb from further irritation. It’s also important that users remove the prosthesis each night before bed. While you may love your bionic hand so much that you never want to take it off, it’s important to give your skin time to breathe. Plus, this is a perfect time to charge the device.
Another excellent practice to ensure comfort and ease of use with your bionic hand is to regularly exercise the limb holding the prosthesis. Users’ physical therapists can suggest exercises for stretching, strength, range of motion, endurance, and body positioning. Practicing these regularly can help users operate the hand more effectively and get their residual limb accustomed to the weight of the hand.
Understand The Needs of Your Bionic Hand
Safety and care are core components of learning to use a bionic hand. Doing so properly will ensure that the hand functions as intended and lasts users for years, in addition to keeping users comfortable and healthy. For this reason, patients who use a bionic hand need to understand how to care for their hand properly.
While it may seem like a lot of work to maintain your bionic hand, a fundamental level of cleaning and mindfulness are all that is needed. Regular maintenance will become second nature once users are familiar with their hand and its cleaning needs.
At Aether Biomedical, we provide users with the Zeus, our high-functioning multi-articulating hand. Zeus provides users with enhanced autonomy, independence, and freedom through its strength, durability, and variety of grips. In return, all that we ask of our users is to care for their hand as we hope to care for them.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Zeus, book a demo today.