HOW DO I REDUCE THE SWELLING?
Wrapping with elastic bandages or using elastic “shrinkers” decreases the swelling and helps shape the residual limb. It is important that you keep your residual limb properly wrapped or within the shrinker at all times. The swelling will continue to decrease over the next several months as your residual limb shrinks significant form both fluid loss and muscle inactivity.
WHAT IS PHANTOM PAIN?
Many people experience the sensation that the amputated limb is still present. You may have the sensation of tingling, itching, or movement, as well as fleeting episodes of sharp, squeezing, or burning pain. The causes of phantom sensation are not clearly understood, but the experience usually disappears within a few months after surgery. Inform your doctor and prosthetist of any discomfort that you may experience.
HOW SOON AFTER SURGERY WILL I GET MY PROSTHESIS?
Many factors determine when you are ready for your first prosthesis. Your residual limb must be well-healed with no tenderness and minimal swelling. Generally, if there are no complications, the first fitting occurs approximately four to five weeks after amputation. If you have poor circulation, the fitting may be delayed and additional two or three weeks to allow for adequate healing.
HOW DO I PREPARE MY BODY FOR WEARING MY PROSTHESIS?
Exercise is important in increasing your overall strength and flexibility and preparing you muscles for the prosthesis. A physical or occupational therapist assesses your overall physical condition and may prescribe an exercise program. Along with exercise, 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 towel, and even lightly slapping your residual limb.
WHAT PROSTHESIS IS BEST FOR ME?
Your prosthetist consults with your physician regarding the prescription for prosthesis. There are many individual factors to consider in prescribing the right prosthesis for you. Some of these include the shape and condition of your residual limb, overall medical and physical condition, previous activity level and lifestyle, commitment, and financial situation. Discuss your interests, lifestyle, work and goals with prosthetist that provides the highest level of function and independence possible.
HOW IS MY PROSTHESIS MADE?
Your prosthesis is made up of many different components selected specifically for you and your lifestyle. Your 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 DO I LEARN TO USE MY PROSTHESIS?
During the initial fittings, your prosthetist guides you through the basic principles of using your prosthesis, fine-tuning the fit and alignment as needed. For lower limb amputees, more extensive training (walking on different terrains, climbing stairs, getting in and out of a car) is provided by a physical therapist. If you have upper limb prosthesis, an occupation therapist helps you perform daily living activities such as grooming, eating and handling various objects.
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 pays large portion of the charges. Medicaid covers certain types of prosthetic devices. Many HMO and PPO plans do not cover prosthetic devices unless you have the higher option plans that include orthotic and prosthetic devices. You will probably have many questions before and after your amputation. We encourage your to talk to your physician, therapist, and discuss your concerns and receive answers to your questions.
HOW LONG WILL MY FIRST PROSTHESIS LAST?
Your first prosthesis is usually worn for about three to six months. During this time, your residual limb continues to shrink and becomes less sensitive. Your prosthetist also makes many adjustments, and prosthetic socks may be added to help the socket fit properly as your limb shrinks. You learn to walk and balance on your new prosthesis, which helps to shrink the residual limb faster. If you’ve lost an arm, your first prosthesis allows you to pick up objects and regain daily living skills.
WHEN WILL I BE READY FOR MY DEFINITIVE PROSTHESIS?
As soon as your residual limb is healed and the size and shape have stabilized, you are ready for a more complex “definitive” prosthesis. Your definitive prosthesis can last for many year 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 ten-pound weigh gain or loss could affect the prosthetic fitting, which requires adjustments or a new prosthesis.