Can You Roller Skate with a Prosthetic Leg? 5 Tips to help

can you roller skate with a prosthetic leg
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

Can you roller skate with a prosthetic leg? That’s an interesting question indeed. The short answer would be; yes. You CAN roller skate with a prosthetic leg. But it’s not as simple as it seems.

If you have a prosthetic leg and you want to roller skate, then know that you aren’t the first prosthetic leg roller skater in the world. It’s been done before and it will still be happening in the future.

So in this article, we’re going to discuss how it feels like to roller skate with a prosthetic leg, and some tips and tricks to help you get started.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

What’s a Prosthetic Leg?

A prosthetic leg is an artificial leg that mimics the functions and movements of a real leg. A lot of people with prosthetic legs can walk freely even if one or both of their limbs are missing.

Today, prostheses have come very far. They’re being constantly experimented upon and improved so that they can go beyond their existing capabilities. Nowadays, prosthetic legs work almost exactly as real legs.

Have Other People Skated With Prosthetic Legs?

Yes, they have. I’ve found many amputees who have given roller skating a try. And not just roller skating, there are many inspiring amputee rollerbladers and skateboarders too.

1. Ellie, the Rollerblader

This incredible young girl broke the seemingly impossible barriers and showed us that you can rollerblade with prostheses.

Here’s her video.

2. Glenn Woodell, the Roller Skater

This man proved to the world that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. He’s a pretty decent skater, even though he’s an amputee.

Here’s his amazing roller skating video.

3. YouTuber SoulPancake, the Skateboarder

This talented YouTuber shares his inspiring skateboarding journey with his audience. Skateboarding is considered to be an extremely hard sport, but it did not stop this guy from doing what he wanted to do and live his life to the fullest.

Check out his story.

4. Melanie Jelenchick, the Roller Derby Athlete

The incredible amputee, Melanie Jelenchick, joined the roller derby team in Fort Myers Florida. Melanie’s thought process was simple,” This is it. I’m gonna do it.” And that led her to success.

Here’s her story.

How to Roller Skate with a Prosthetic Leg?

That’s the part we’ve all been waiting for. Unfortunately, there’s no specific answer to that question. Every individual with a prosthetic leg has different circumstances.

Everybody has Different Circumstances

Some have above-the-knee prostheses, while others have below-the-knee. Some can walk and run freely, while others need a walking stick. So whether you can roller skate or not, depends on YOUR circumstances.

If you’re looking to get into roller skating, all you need to know, that it has been done before so you can do it too. Sure you might have to adapt to your leg a bit. Sure you might have to customize your roller skates a bit. You might even have to make a new prosthetic leg altogether. But if you’re ready to make the effort, then you can do it.

Helpful Tips to Get Started

I can’t provide a sure answer, but I can summarize some helpful things you can do to make roller skating work for your prosthetic leg.

1. Work With a Prosthetist

If you’re an amputee, your relationship with your prosthetist will be for life. If you’re looking to get into roller skating, and not just roller skating, but any sport; you must visit your prosthetist first.

You must tell them the sport or hobby you want to pick, so they can monitor you closely and make necessary adjustments just for you.

They’ll look into your requirements and give you the best advice and solutions. Your prosthetic leg doesn’t bend in the knee? They could make one that does bend. It doesn’t bend in the ankle? They would look into a solution for that.

They might even refer you to some other people, to help you roller skate with your prosthetic leg.

2. Adjust Your Prosthetic Leg

If your prosthetic leg does not have the functions and capabilities to roller skate, then perhaps you need a new one. Work with your prosthetist and other professionals to fix this problem and find a solution.

The prosthetic leg must be able to bend in the knee to roller skate. You may also face some problems in balancing, due to the ankles not being able to bend. The biggest problem is the bending of the knees. If you can get that solved, then you’re good to go.

3. Customize / Adjust Your Roller Skates

While it’s true that there are a lot of prosthetic legs whose shape and build are exactly like that of a real leg and a real foot. But there are a lot of prosthetic legs whose shape is different from that of a real leg.

If that’s the case, then you need roller skates that are different than normal ones. Again, you have to work with a prosthetist and roller skating experts to build roller skates that best fit you.

4. Practice, practice, and practice

With a prosthetic leg, it may be a bit harder for you to find your balance. The reason being that your ankles might not be able to bend that well. Or that your prosthetic knee can’t bend as efficiently as normal knees. But, don’t give up. Instead, practice a lot so you can find your balance; and progress further.

5. Stay Confident

When you’re a beginner, you may think that you can’t roller skate with a prosthetic leg because you aren’t progressing as fast as others, so it’s a wasted effort. But that’s not the case. Skating is hard in general, but once you get the hang of it, you will be able to do advanced tricks like jumps ramps, and verts.

Heck, there are skateboarders with prosthetic legs, who can do ollies, kickflips, grinds, and other hard tricks like they’re nothing. Roller skating is simpler and easier than skateboarding, so you’ll definitely be able to do it.

What Kind of Prosthetic Leg is Required To Roller Skate?

The artificial leg needs to be able to function as a normal leg in order to roller skate. There are some above-the-knee legs that don’t bend, so you’ll have to solve that problem.

Kinds of Prosthetic Legs

In order to roller skate, you need to figure out the kind of prosthetic leg you have and adapt to it.

There are two kinds of prosthetic legs.

1. Below the Knee Prosthetic Leg (Transtibial)

This prosthetic leg starts below the knee. Usually, there is no need to change or adjust the prostheses.

2. Above the Knee Prosthetic Leg (Transfemoral)

Things get a bit trickier with this one. This prosthetic leg starts above the knee and requires a long process of rehabilitation before it can be used.

Minimum Requirements

The minimum requirement for an individual to be able to roller skate is; bending the knee. If you can’t bend your knee, you can’t roller skate.

  • If the prosthetic leg is transtibial, meaning that it’s located below the knee; then that means that you can bend your knees as required. So you can roller skate.
  • If the prosthetic leg is transfemoral, then things get complicated. If the artificial knee is not able to bend, then you can’t roller skate.

If you have a transfemoral (above the knee) leg which does not bend, you can certainly find someone to make a prosthetic leg for you, that bends.

What Kind of Roller Skates are Required?

Roller skates aren’t primarily made for prosthetic legs. No brand would be able to provide you with roller skates designed specifically for prosthetic legs. It’s going to be a bit difficult to make your roller skates work. So you need to be able to adjust your roller skates accordingly.

Roller Skate Requirements

With prosthetic legs, you’d require roller skates that would actually provide a nice fit and support for the legs.

  • The roller skates should fit the shape of the prosthetic leg.
  • The buckles should be tight around the shins.
  • The roller skates should provide good ankle and leg support.
  • The roller skates should not be loose.

You won’t be able to find any ready-made roller skates for prosthetic legs.

Get Customized and Well Adjusted Roller Skates!

The strategy here is to contact a roller skate company and tell them about your condition and requirements, so they can build customized roller skates just for you. You should also talk to a prosthetist before ordering your first set of roller skates.

If you’ve already ordered your roller skates, then take them to your prosthetist and ask them to help you adjust your roller skates to fit your feet naturally. The wheels should remain level and not get tilted, uneven, or slanted in any direction and the roller skates should be able to provide good support.

Disadvantages of Skating with Prosthetic Legs / Things You Might Experience

Here are some things you might experience while roller skating. But don’t let them discourage you. Be strong, keep moving forward and never give up.

1. Your Prosthetic Leg Might Fall Off

That can happen anytime and anywhere. Your prosthetic leg can fall off at any moment while roller skating and you will fall. But don’t let this puny reason stop you from doing what you want. If your leg falls off, put it on again, and start roller skating.

2. Your Prosthetic Leg Might Get Damaged

Yes, that will happen. Things break eventually and nothing is invincible. The same is the case with artificial legs. Roller skating puts additional pressure on your legs, which might cause your prosthetic legs to damage or break faster than it’s meant to be. The cost of repairs can be high, but if you’re ready to invest, then there’s no need to worry.

3. Your Progress Might be Slow

Suppose you’re a newbie skater and you’re progressing slower than your friends, who started at the same time as you but can now do things that you still can’t do. It can be quite disheartening. Anybody would be discouraged after all that.

But keep in mind that your only rival is yourself and not anyone else. You must work hard to better yourself, not compare yourself to others. It’s your roller skating journey, not anybody else’s.

So the next time, you feel inferior to others, punch those ridiculous thoughts out of your mind and have fun. Life is too short to be worrying about such trivial matters.

4. Judgment from Other People (And Yourself)

We live in a judgemental society. People judge other people. Some make fun, some say offending words and some don’t say anything. But they still judge. Even we judge and undermine ourselves constantly.

In order to live freely and stay happy, you need to go with the motto, ‘I don’t care.’ If you’re skating with a prosthetic leg, people will judge; and you will feel insecure about it. It’s natural. But you have to stay strong and not let these things bring you down. Otherwise, you’d be living in others’ shadows forever.

Can you roller skate with a prosthetic leg? Final Motivation

Here’s the final piece of advice and motivation to help you in your roller skating journey.

  • Pick your role model and get inspiration from them.
  • Make good friends.
  • If other people can roller skate with prosthetic legs, then so can you.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. This is YOUR roller skating journey.
  • Don’t care about what other people think of you. Instead, focus your energy on having fun.
  • Show the world what you can do.
  • You get one life, and you’ve got to live it to the fullest.

I hope this article inspired you to try and start roller skating with prosthetic legs. If you really want to do it, and you’re ready to put in the effort, time and money, then know that you can do it.

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Good luck and have fun skating!

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