Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development (JRRD)

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Volume 53 Number 5, 2016
   Pages 619 — 628

Abstract — Residual limb skin temperature and thermal comfort in people with amputation during activity in a cold environment

Ava D. Segal, MS;1 Glenn K. Klute, PhD1–2*

1Center for Limb Loss Prevention and Prosthetic Engineering, Rehabilitation Research and Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, WA; 2Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Abstract — Thermal comfort remains a common problem for people with lower-limb amputation. Both donning a prosthesis and engaging in activity at room temperature can increase residual limb skin temperature; however, the effects of activity on skin temperature and comfort in more extreme environments remain unknown. We examined residual limb skin temperatures and perceived thermal comfort (PTC; 11-point Likert scale) of participants with unilateral transtibial amputation (n = 8) who were snowshoeing in a cold environment. Residual limb skin temperature increased by 3.9°C (3.0°C to 4.7°C) (mean difference [95% confidence interval], p < 0.001) after two 30 min exercise sessions separated by a 5 min rest session. Minimal cooling (–'0.2°C [–1.1°C to 0.6°C]) occurred during the rest period. Similar changes in PTC were found for the residual limb, intact limb, and whole body, with a mean scale increase of 1.6 (1.1 to 2.1) and 1.3 (0.8 to 1.8) for the first and second exercise sessions, respectively (p < 0.001). Activity in a cold environment caused similar increases in residual limb skin temperature as those found in studies conducted at room temperature. Participants with amputation perceived warming as their skin temperature increased during exercise followed by the perception of cooling during rest, despite minimal associated decreases in skin temperature.

Key Words: amputation, cold environment, exercise, lower-limb, prosthesis, skin temperature, snowshoe, thermal comfort, thermistor, transtibial.

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This article and any supplementary material should be cited as follows:
Segal AD, Klute GK. Residual limb skin temperature and thermal comfort in people with amputation during activity in a cold environment. J Rehabil Res Dev. 2016; 53(5):619–28.

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