My doctor says I will need an amputation. When should I contact a prosthetist?
You may contact a prosthetist as soon as possible, and you can begin by asking for referrals from your team of medical professionals. For exceptional care, the practitioner and facility you choose should be certified and accredited by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics, & Pedorthics (ABC).
Do I need a prescription for your services?
You will need a prescription for a prosthesis or an orthosis, but it is not required for an office visit.
Does my insurance pay for your services?
Many insurance companies partially or fully cover a variety of orthotic and prosthetic services. You may need preauthorization for an orthotic/prosthetic product or service. Contact your insurance company with any questions to fully maximize your benefits.
Do I have to bring anything to my first appointment?
For your initial appointment, we ask that you arrive 15 minutes prior in order to allow for the necessary paperwork to be completed. You will need to bring a photo ID, your insurance card, and the prescription from your doctor. If you have Medicare or Medicaid, please be sure to have a current copy of your card with you. There will be some forms to be filled out. You can download those here and fill them out before your visit.
How long will it take to make my prosthesis? What is the process?
We have a fact sheet that outlines what to expect. You can download it here.
How do I choose a prosthesis?
A prosthesis is chosen to match your function levels. Some things to consider are your amputation level; your occupation; and sports and hobbies you want to return to. There are many different prostheses available to match your needs.
How does it fit on my residual limb? How will it stay on?
There are several different suspension methods – suction, pin-lock mechanism attached to a liner, a suspension sleeve, or elevated vacuum. Your prosthetist will discuss with you what will be the most appropriate with your prosthesis and level of activity.
Is it difficult to learn how to use a prosthesis?
Learning to use a prosthesis is a process that takes time, effort, strength, patience, and perseverance. We will teach you the basics in our office, but many people find it helpful to continue working with their therapists to relearn activities of daily living and depending on your occupation, activities relating to that. Therapists will also work with you to improve your gait to help you walk better, and show you how to handle emergencies safely, such as falling down and getting up again.
What happens after my prosthesis is finished and I get to take it home? Will I get instructions on how to take care of it?
Before you take your prosthesis home, you will receive instructions on how to put it on (donning the prosthesis) and taking it off (doffing). You’ll have some time to practice walking with it in our office and you will also be give instructions on how to care for it.
Note that during the first year, your residual limb will be changing in shape and size and it will be necessary to see your prosthetist for adjustments. If your prosthesis is uncomfortable, you won’t wear it. Always call us when there is pain, chafing, or the fit is too loose or too tight.
Can you make my prosthesis look like it’s a natural part of me?
Yes. We can apply a cover or silicone prosthesis over it. It will match your skin tone and include hair, veins, and freckles. Some of our patients prefer to have their prosthetic socket laminated with a design that matches their interests.
Once I get my prosthesis, will I be able to do all of the things I did before my amputation?
Most people are able to resume their occupation and their activities prior to amputation. However, you may have to do some things differently and you will need to practice your gait, balance, and coordination. The success you have with your prosthesis depends on your attitude, willingness to master wearing the prosthesis, and your rehabilitation goals.
Can I drive a car with my lower-limb prosthesis?
An amputee will most likely be able to safely resume driving with the assistance of adaptive devices. Contact your car insurance company and local Department of Motor Vehicles for more information.
Can I drive a car with my upper-limb prosthesis?
It should still be possible for you to drive after an upper-limb amputation. Depending on your amputation, you may need modifications such as a steering device, a modified gear shifter, and modified secondary controls such as a turn signal. However, if you can still reach and operate your entire vehicle’s controls with either the help of your prosthesis or with your other limb, you may not need modifications.
Can I wear my prosthesis all day long or at night while sleeping?
At first, you will have a wearing schedule to acclimate your residual limb to the prosthesis. Overdoing it and not following the schedule and instructions from your prosthetist can result in pain and possible injury. Once you have completed the wearing schedule, you can wear the prosthesis all day, but never at night while sleeping.
Will I need a wheelchair or crutches?
As you master the art of walking on a prosthesis, you may find it helpful to use a cane or a crutch for additional support. Crutches or a wheelchair are also helpful for nighttime trips to the bathroom, going into the shower, or taking a break from wearing the prosthesis. If you have a bilateral amputation, you will find a wheelchair is still needed for the times you are not wearing your prostheses.
I have heard that sometimes you have feeling in a limb that isn’t there anymore. Why is that?
Feeling the missing limb is called phantom limb pain and it is a common sensation with amputees. If you experience phantom limb pain following your amputation, speak with your doctor, as therapeutic treatment options may be available.
How often will I have to get my prosthesis replaced?
That depends on your activity level and how well you take care of your prosthesis. A rule of thumb is from two to four years. Often, it is the socket that wears out the fastest and that can be replaced without having to get an entire new set of componentry. You also will be replacing liners or socks on a regular basis.
How often should I see my prosthetist?
Follow-up visits are recommended every three to six months for normal maintenance and care. However, an inspection should be performed if you’ve experienced even a slight weight gain or loss or if your activity level has changed.
What is an orthosis?
An orthosis is a support designed to align, correct, or prevent neuromuscular or musculoskeletal dysfunction, disease, injury, or deformity.
How long will I have to wear it?
That depends on your level of injury or medical condition. In some situations, such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, you will always have to wear a support. If you are recovering from a surgery or sport-related injury, the orthosis can be discontinued after you have healed properly.
What is an AFO?
An AFO (ankle-foot-orthosis) assists foot or ankle motion and provides leg support. It controls the alignment and motion of joints in the foot/ankle complex. An AFO can provide free motion, limit motion via stops set in the ankle joint, or encourage motion with ankle joint assists.
What is a foot orthosis?
A foot orthosis is prescribed when the foot is misshapen or to relieve areas of pressure on the foot. The use of a foot orthosis will help to promote the correct gait.
What is a spinal orthosis?
A spinal orthosis is a supportive device applied to the back and often encircling the trunk that limits the movement of the vertebrae, alleviates pain, or unloads mechanical stress. It is used to correct or control spinal deformities and injuries, and to provide immobilization or support. There are several variations of a spinal orthosis.
CTO (Cervico-Thoracic Orthosis): The CTO maintains the head in a neutral position, reduces pain, prevents further injury, and promotes healing. It does not totally immobilize the head, but blocks cervical flexion and extension.
Miami J Rigid Cervical Collar: Restricts neck movement during recovery from fracture or fusion. Limits cervical motion in all three planes and restricts forward flexion and extension.
CASH TLSO (Cruciform Anterior Sagital Hyperextension /Thoracal Lumbar Sacral Orthosis): Provides rigid support of the thoraco lumbar spinal region in the anterior/sagittal plane to prevent forward bending and limit side bending of the spine. It is commonly used to treat vertebral compression fractures.
LSO (Lumbar-Sacral Orthosis): Provides effective compression with adjustable / removable side panels designed to provide rigid lateral support for a higher degree of spinal/trunk support.
What is a Knee Orthosis:
A knee orthosis (KO) protects the knee structure from unloading/stress. A KO may be preventative or corrective and may be permanent treatment for repaired/compromised knee structures.
What do I need to receive therapeutic diabetic footwear?
To qualify for diabetic footwear, you must have a prescription from your doctor that you have diabetes, or conditions such as partial or complete foot amputation, history of foot ulcerations, history of preulcerative tallus, nerve damage because of diabetes, poor circulation, or a foot deformity.