New Technologies Make Winter Easier For Amputees
NHPR, Michael Samuels, February 4, 2015
For amputees who use prosthetic limbs, winter weather can pose a range of challenges. But changing technologies and new strategies are making winter easier for Granite Staters who use the devices.
Therese Willkomm just returned from a trip to India, and a visit to a company there called Dham Innovations. She brought back a ceramic tile a little bigger than a Scrabble piece, set in a sort of fingerless glove that Velcros onto the wearer's hand.
With a battery-powered control, she's able to heat the tile - and the wearer's previously icy hand - in about a second. A second later, she can also make it very cold.
Willkomm is the Director of Assistive Technology in New Hampshire, or ATinNH, and Clinical Assistant Professor in the University of New Hampshire's Department of Occupational Therapy. She's particularly excited about using this technology to help farmers who are also amputees with prosthetic limbs - her specialty. Farmers, and others who do physical labor, can ask a lot of a prosthetic limb, working outside in all kinds of weather. "One of the challenges, of course, this time of year, with individuals using prosthetic devices," Willkomm explains, is that "that terminal device is often made of stainless steel, it gets very cold, it transmits through a hard socket..." The same happens during the summer, when metal components can get very hot.