Can You Swim with a Prosthetic?

25 May 2022

This time of year, we often get questions about swimming with a prosthetic leg. The purpose of any prosthetic limb is to allow you to live your life as normally as possible, with the capacity to do any activity that you were previously able to enjoy — including swimming.

That said, your prosthesis does provide some challenges when it comes to swimming, and you should know several things before jumping in the pool or taking a swim in the ocean. Below, we’ll go over some basics about swimming with a prosthetic leg so that by the time summer is in full swing, you’ll be more than ready.

Are Prosthetic Legs Waterproof?

The standard prosthetic leg is not waterproof or designed to get excessively wet. It is, however, possible to go swimming with a prosthetic leg — you’ll just need a water leg or leg cover to do so. Some prosthetic components, like the feet, can withstand some water exposure from rain showers, puddles, etc., but they’re not meant to be fully submerged in water. Chlorine, salt water, and sand are all things that can damage your prosthetic and accelerate its wear and tear. This means that you’ll need to remove your prosthetic before showering or going for a swim.

Can I Get a Swimming Prosthetic Leg?

You can get a prosthetic water leg that isspecifically designed for swimming and has extra protection to prevent corrosion. Work closely with your prosthetist to make sure that you get a proper fit, and that your prosthetic water leg is made from the right materials so it can last for long periods of time in the water. You can also look into prosthetic leg attachments. In recent years, Northwell Health developed a 3D printed prosthetic leg attachment, called “The Fin,” which allows people with amputated limbs to have an easier time swimming.

Keep in mind that you’ll want to check in with your insurance provider to see if they’ll cover the cost of a swimming prosthetic leg. Insurance coverage has stipulations, one of which is a medical necessity, and some companies don’t deem a prosthetic water leg a medical necessity.

What Other Options Are There?

Swimming with a prosthetic leg doesn’t always mean investing in a prosthetic water leg; there are other options available for you, too.

  • Prosthetic leg covers for swimming: These are a great option for swimming with a prosthetic leg. Prosthetic leg covers for swimming are covers that go over your prosthetic leg and have an airtight seal that prevents water from touching or damaging your prosthetic. The only patented vacuum-sealed prosthetic leg cover for swimming is the DRYPRO Waterproof Prosthetic Cover. This is a great cover for swimming with a prosthetic leg because it’s vacuum-sealed, lightweight, and affordable.
  • An old or backup prosthetic leg: Many people use an old or backup leg for swimming, especially if swimming is an infrequent activity. This is great because it lets you swim uninhibited whenever you want, without fear of damaging your primary leg. However, you’ll want to avoid this option if your backup leg was retired due to not fitting properly or components that weren’t functioning properly as that can negatively impact not only your experience swimming but also the health of your residual limb.
  • No prosthesis: A lot of lower limb amputees choose to swim sans a prosthetic leg, which is another option available too. If you opt to do this, ensure that you have crutches or a wheelchair to use when getting in and out of the water.

Swimming with a prosthetic leg is absolutely possible — you just need to understand what options are available and which is best for you. To learn more about prosthetic water legs, prosthetic leg covers for swimming, or to discuss your swimming prosthetic leg options, contact us today!