Hesperian Health Guides
Prevention of Injury for Persons with Loss of Feeling and Strength
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Eyes: Much eye damage comes from not blinking enough, because of weakness or loss of feeling. Blinking keeps the eyes wet and clean. If the person does not blink well, or his eyes are red, teach him to:
- Wear sunglasses with side shades, and maybe a sun hat.
- Close the eyes tightly often during the day, especially when dust blows.
- Roll the eyeballs up as you try to close eyes tight.
- Keep eyes clean. Wash well around eyes, keep flies and dirty hands away.
When you work with your hands, or cook meals, take special care. Never pick up a pan or other object that might be hot without first protecting your hand with a thick glove or folded cloth. If possible, avoid work that involves handling sharp or hot objects. Do not smoke.
- Use tools with smooth, wide handles, or wrap cloth around handles.
|To help the person with weak or deformed fingers hold a tool or utensil, you can mold a handle to the shape of the person’s closed hand.|
|Use epoxy putty, or plaster of Paris mixed with a strong glue. Have the person grip the handle while it is still soft. Then let it harden.|
|For more aids for gripping, see "Alternatives for a Child with Amputated Hands" and "Other Aids".|
Eyes: Close eyes often. If necessary, use a simple eye patch. If eye gets infected (forms pus) use an antibiotic eye ointment. Put the ointment into lower lid without touching the eye.
Hands and feet: If you have a cut or sore, keep the injured part very clean and at rest until it has healed completely. Take care not to injure the area again.
Things to do every day
- Checkups: At the end of each day (or more often if you work hard or walk far) examine your hands and feet carefully—or have someone else examine them. Look for cuts, bruises, or thorns. Also look for spots or areas on the hands and feet that are red, hot, swollen, or show the start of blisters. If you find any of these, rest the hands or feet until the skin is completely normal again.
- If the skin gets dry and cracks, soak the feet daily in water for at least 20 minutes. Then rub cooking oil, Vaseline, or lanolin hand cream into them (not butter or animal fat. These attract insects and rats).
- As you rub oil into the hands and feet, do stretching exercises to keep the complete range of motion in the joints.
With continued daily care, most deformities of leprosy can be prevented.