There are going to be many questions you have about your amputation and prosthetic care. If you do not see an answer to your question here, please fill in the form at the bottom of the page and we will respond as soon as possible.
What is a prosthesis?
A prosthesis is an externally applied device designed to replace a missing part of the body or to make a part of the body perform better. Diseased or missing eyes, arms, hands, and legs are commonly replaced by prosthetic devices. Generally, most people view a prosthesis as an artificial limb.
How do I get a prosthesis?
As a new amputee, you will begin the fitting process following a series of rigid casts or Immediate Post Operative Prosthesis (IPOP) and application of a compression sock "shrinker" which will help to shape your limb in preparation for a prosthesis. This takes and average of 6-8 weeks following surgery.
You will then see one of our practitioners, known as prosthetists, who are professionally trained to fit, adjust, recommend and modify a prosthetic device. Several visits to your prosthetist are required and involve casting, measuring, diagnostic fittings and training in how to use and care for your prosthesis. If you are a new prosthetic user, you will visit a physical therapist upon delivery of your prosthesis. The therapist will train you on the functions of the newly acquired device as well as how to obtain good performance and maximum comfort in everyday life while using the device.
What is phantom pain?
Phantom pain is the term used to describe sensations felt by amputees, which may include cramping, tingling, itching, pins and needles, stabbing pains, pressure, a sense of fullness (as if the limb was still there but swollen). The majority of amputees experience these sensations, however the degree to which it is felt will vary. The phantom sensations are intermittent and come and go, unpredictably. New amputees tend to have frequent and intense sensations several times every day, often continuously for a few hours at a time. As the years pass after an amputation, the sensations will generally become less frequent, and less intense, and bouts of pain last for shorter periods of time.
What if the prosthesis doesn't fit right?
Follow-up appointments are as important as the initial fitting. You will need to make several visits for adjustments with the prosthetist as well as training with the therapist. They can help you ease pressure areas, adjust alignment, work out any problems, and regain the skills you need to adapt to life after limb loss. Tell your prosthetist if the prosthesis is uncomfortable, too loose or tight, or causing skin issues such as blisters. Ask questions about things you need or want to do. Communicate honestly about your needs and wants. The more you communicate with your prosthetist and therapist, the better you will be able to succeed with a prosthesis.
How much does an artificial leg weigh?
The weight of your artificial limb will depend on components and type of limbs. On average a below knee prosthesis weighs 4 lbs and an above knee prosthesis weighs 8 lbs. A natural leg weighs approximately 1/6 of your body weight.
How long will it last?
Depending on your age, activity level and growth, the prosthesis can last anywhere from several months to several years. In the early stages after losing your limb, many changes occur in the residual limb that can lead to shrinking of the limb. the greatest amount of volume loss occurs within the first six months following an amputation. This may require socket changes, the addition of socks, addition of padding, or changes in alignment and/or replacement of the socket. Later on, increased activity level and desire for additional function can necessitate a change in the prosthetic or its parts. Once the prosthesis is comfortably adjusted and you are functioning at the desired activity level, the prosthesis only needs minor repairs or maintenance and can last for an average of three years.
Can my prosthesis get wet?
We strongly encourage that you keep your prosthesis as dry as possible. Certain componentry will rust and is not meant to get wet. There are however, covers that go over your prosthesis that help prevent water from entering. We are also able to fabricate a special prosthesis designed for water activities including swimming, fishing, and showering.
Can I expect to be able to drive as before or will I need special equipment?
If the prosthesis is for the left side, it may be easier and safer to take the prosthesis off prior to driving a motor vehicle. Although not recommended, a few below knee amputees can effectively drive using their prosthesis, in most cases though, an easily operated left-foot gas pedal can be installed. These are inexpensive and fold out of the way for general use. In some cases, such as people with bilateral amputations, hand controls are a more realistic option.
What is an orthosis?
An orthosis is a custom made of prefabricated device which is used to support a weakened limb, improve movement or prevent or correct deformity. An orthosis can be made for any part of the body, from simple foot orthotics to spinal bracing or helmets. It can be made of a variety of materials including plastic, carbon fiber or fabric.
How do I get an orthosis?
If you do not have an orthosis, but feel you might benefit from one, you will want to discuss this with your physician at your next appointment. They may write you a prescription for an orthosis. If you already have an orthosis, but you feel it may require replacement due to wear or deterioration you can do one of two things:
1) Schedule an appointment with your orthotist so they can either refurbish the current orthosis or verify that you need a replacement. If it needs to be replaced, and you haven't seen your physician recently, you will need to contact your physician in order to get a prescription.
2) See your physician and request a new prescription. Then call your orthotist and schedule an appointment.
Once you have a prescription for an orthosis you can call our office and schedule an appointment.
What should I expect when I show up for my appointment?
If you are a new patient, there will be some paperwork for you to fill out before your appointment. Once all the paperwork is done, one of our orthotists will perform an evaluation and discuss orthotic options available. After a treatment plan is agreed upon, the part of the body requiring an orthosis may be molded by the orthotist and or measured. If you are coming for an orthosis for your knee, bring shorts so that a mold or measurement may be taken higher on the thigh. If a prefabricated device is decided on as the treatment, you will either be measured (if we do not stock the item) or fit (if we have the item in stock) with the device at the first appointment.
How long after my first appointment will I get my orthosis?
This varies depending on the type of device you will be getting. Typically, we require 2 weeks for custom devices including custom foot orthotics, ankle foot orthoses or spinal orthoses. If it requires less or more time than the orthotist will tell you this at the initial appointment.
Will it fit into my shoe?
This depends on the type of orthosis you receive and the type of shoes you wear. For foot orthotics, ankle foot orthoses or knee ankle foot orthoses we recommend a sturdy shoe preferably with a tongue and means of loosening or tightening. They should not be open back shoes. If you have concerns with shoe wear, discuss this with your orthotist.
What if I have an area that is uncomfortable?
If there is discomfort, call your orthotist and schedule an appointment for adjustment. Many times it is a quick adjustment to make an orthosis more comfortable for you.
How often should I see my orthotist?
The typical timelines for appointments include the initial evaluation appointment and two weeks later for a delivery appointment. If there are concerns with fit/function, we may schedule additional follow up appointments. You should schedule routine follow up appointments with your orthotist yearly so the condition of your orthosis can be assessed and repaired if needed.
I have foot drop, could an orthosis help me?
There are various orthotic treatments for foot drop or drop foot. Depending on the condition of your other muscle groups and joints, you may benefit from a simple low profile ankle foot orthosis which will assist with your toe clearance during the swing phase of gait, but is still flexible enough so that it does not affect the rest of your gait. Talk to your physician to determine if an orthosis is right for you.
My child has scoliosis, what should we expect?
Scoliosis is a common diagnosis in adolescents and pre-teens. there are various orthotic treatments we use for idiopathic scoliosis. We will discuss these options and evaluate your son or daughter to determine which option will be most effective at correcting their curve type.
When you are coming in for an initial evaluation, make sure you bring your prescription and most recent X-rays. After a treatment plan is formed and necessary measurements are taken, we will schedule a two week delivery appointment. We will be seeing your child every 4 to 6 months for follow-up, adjustments and X-rays with the physician.
How much does it cost?
Depending on the type of orthosis the cost could vary from less than $100 up to $7,000+. Most insurances have DME (Durable Medical Equipment) coverage. At your initial appointment, the office staff will go over your insurance benefits and expected co-insurance (your payment responsibility). We collect 50% down on all custom made devices on the date of casting and the remaining portion on the day of delivery.