PROSTHETIC PATIENTS - What to expect
We offer our patients free evaluations for all new and existing BPOC patients; whether it's for a simple adjustment, replacement of components, replenishment of prosthetic supplies, or a new amputee in need of their first prosthesis.
If you're considering amputation and have questions regarding your prospective experience, our clinicians are readily available to guide you through this difficult process and help you assess your goals that can be met with the use of a customized prosthesis.
After your amputation, your surgeon will require healing time prior to being evaluated for your prosthesis. You will schedule an evaluation with us once your doctor clears you for a prosthesis, which is typically once your incision has fully healed or is close to being completely healed. Our clinician will be assessing your mobility, activities, work, and general lifestyle to guide us in creating the perfect prosthesis and appropriate components for you. Our goal in designing your prosthesis sit to allow you to return as closely as possible to your original functional level. With all of the right tools and components, we can help you achieve those goals.
Once your incision has healed (no sutures/staples/steri-strips) and skin has no pending scabbing, you will be fitted with a “shrinker” (a compression sock) to begin the process of controlling swelling/edema, shaping the limb, and desensitizing the residual limb. We will submit all insurance document requirements at this time with your insurance with the assistance from your referring physician.
We closely monitor any swelling with the use of the shrinker until the limb measurements are no longer fluctuating. This indicates to us that your edema is no longer fluctuating and may be ready for casting. The casting process requires a plaster or fiberglass mold to be taken of your residual limb, along with numerous measurements. This cast will provide us with a positive mold of your residual limb to enable us to create the custom “socket” (or the portion of the prosthesis that will surround your limb).
A “check” or test socket is initially created to assess the fit of the final device. This preliminary socket is made out of a clear plastic that allows us to make adjustments and improvements to the fit. This is usually an exciting appointment for patients as it is common we will assess the fit in seated, standing, and ambulatory positions. This will be your first time weight-bearing and taking a few steps in your prosthesis! It is common to feel some discomfort, disorientation, and weakness during this appointment; however, it gives our patient good insight on what goals to set for exercising and routinely practicing coordination for ambulation. A second test socket may be required at this stage if your limb has changed dramatically since casting. Once you the test socket fit is optimized, we will proceed to create a “definitive” or final socket. Please bring any favorite fabrics (shirts, thin blankets) that you may want sealed around the socket! Please note this will permanently adhere the fabric to the prosthesis and it will not be reusable or changed.
Final fitting would take place once the definitive socket is complete. We would do a last check to ensure fit and alignment is satisfactory and work on gait training in our facility. For new amputees, it is common to begin or continue physical therapy at this time to allow for expert assistance in learning how to maneuver the prosthesis and ambulate safely. It is usually recommended to use an assistive device in the beginning stages of receiving your new prosthesis until you have enough strength and balance to overcome uneven terrain, steps, stairs, etc. You will also receive prosthetic socks and other supplies that pertain to the design of your prosthesis at this time.
We will have frequent adjustment appointments as you need, as the limb matures, becomes more shapely, and continues to lose volume. Only a certain degree of adjustments with the use of pads can be made before a replacement socket will be required. Expect a replacement socket to be needed between six months and two years, depending on the rate at which your limb changes. We encourage our prosthetic patients to visit us routinely, while monitoring their limb and prosthesis fit, to assess for possible adjustments.