Should I contact the Mobility Center before my amputation surgery?
Yes. Ideally, our prosthetist will meet with you before your surgery to evaluate your mobility and lifestyle expectations post-surgery. In many cases, he can work directly with your surgeon to determine specific surgery techniques that can enhance your ability to utilize a prosthesis.
How much will my prosthesis cost?
Your prosthesis is custom-designed to meet your specific needs using advanced and expensive materials and components. Insurance coverage varies widely, but most private insurance plans and Medicare pay a large portion of the charges. The amount billed for devices is calculated using several elements. It includes the evaluation time, casting or measurement process, fitting appointments, cost of materials, and any follow up appointments needed to ensure the proper fit of each device.
Our clinic is contracted with every major insurance provider in the state including Medicare and Medicaid. Each insurance policy is unique and our billing staff will discuss your coverage details with you upon your initial evaluation. Our office is very willing to work with our clients to arrange payment plans if your insurance will not cover your device.
How is my prosthesis made?
Your prosthesis is made up of many different components selected specifically for you and your lifestyle. The prosthetist begins by taking a series of measurements and a cast of your residual limb. From the cast, a mold is made and used to design a custom socket. Your residual limb fits snugly in the socket which is attached to the other components that make up your prosthesis.
There are also a variety of skin-like coverings that can be used to resemble your other limb as closely as possible.
How many prostheses will I get?
Generally, you will get two prosthetic devices within the first year of your amputation. The first prosthesis is called a preparatory prosthesis and is usually worn for about three to six months. During this time, your residual limb continues to shrink and becomes less sensitive. Once your residual limb has healed and the size and shape have stabilized, you are ready for a more complex “definitive” prosthesis. Your definitive prosthesis can last for many years, especially if you take proper care of it and have it periodically “checked and serviced” by your prosthetist.
Also, it is very important that you maintain your weight. Even a 10-pound weight gain or loss could affect the prosthetic fitting, which requires adjustments or a new prosthesis.
How long of a process is the prosthesis manufacturing and fitting?
Because prosthetic devices are custom fabricated, and have many different components, the process to fit takes time. Once your limb has healed, you will be molded for a test socket, which is the initial device you will be learning to walk on. In about a week, given your availability, you will be able to come in for a fitting. You may have to come back several times, depending on complications, availability, and tolerance to the device.
Once it’s determined that the fit and alignment of the device are appropriate, the device will be “finished.” This process takes about a week. The total process time for the fit of a final prosthesis varies by individual, but an average time frame to consider is about a month.
Why is physical therapy needed?
We recommend that you receive physical therapy before and after receiving your prosthesis. This allows the therapist to provide much-needed pre-prosthetic strengthening and post-prosthetic gait (walking) training. This helps prevent you from forming movement habits that could cause you pain and difficulty with mobility long-term.
How long will it take me to walk again?
Most patients return to normal function within several months after amputation surgery. Recovery rates depend on a timely, comfortable prosthetic fitting, good follow-up care, and the patient’s health and goals.
How long should I wear my below knee post-op LimbGuard brace?
You should wear the LimbGuard at all times in order to protect the limb and to prevent knee flexion contractures.
How do I reduce the swelling?
In order to reduce swelling, you should wear your shrinker sock at all times. The shrinker decreases swelling and helps shape the residual limb. The swelling will continue to decrease over the next several months as your residual limb shrinks significantly from both fluid loss and muscle inactivity.
How soon after surgery will I get my prosthesis?
Your residual limb should be completely healed before the surgeon will give the okay to say with prosthetic services. Generally, if there are no healing complications, the first fitting occurs approximately six to eight weeks after surgery.
How do I prepare my body for wearing a prosthesis?
Gradually desensitizing your residual limb is an important step in preparing for your prosthesis. Begin by massaging your limb, then work up to patting it, rubbing it with a towel, and even lightly slapping your residual limb. Preventing contractures (the tightening of the muscles and joints) also makes wearing your prosthesis easier.
How do I care for my prosthesis? Can I sleep in it?
The stump and liner should be washed daily to avoid irritation and infection. Mild soap and warm water are recommended. The liner should be cleaned once a week with rubbing alcohol to kill possible bacteria. The prosthesis should be removed before going to bed; do not sleep in it.
How can I tell if my prosthesis needs to be replaced?
Prosthetic components are designed to last from two to four years, depending on how they are used. The socket is also designed to last for two to four years, although most sockets must be replaced sooner as a result of changes in the residual limb such as weight loss, revision surgery or increased activity level.
Cracking and popping noises, excessive hip pain and strain, and issues with alignment are all signs that a prosthesis is reaching the end of its wear cycle.
Can I drive with my prosthesis?
Yes, however it is recommended that you make necessary automobile modifications so you can continue to drive safely. If you choose, you can take driving classes and make any changes recommended by the instructor.
How much does a prosthesis weigh?
The weight depends on the components selected. A below knee prosthesis can weigh between 5 to 7 pounds and an above knee prosthesis can weigh between 8 to 12 pounds.
What do I do if I need to go through airport security?
Please see the tips provided by Transportation Security Administration: http://www.tsa.gov