I am facing an amputation. What should I do first
Call our office at 440-988-5770 for a pre-surgical consultation free of charge.
How long is the prosthetic process?
The process is unique to each individual patient and the reasons for their amputation. Once the surgeon allows for the prosthetic use about 2-4 weeks after clearance you will be able to take your first steps.
How long should I wear my prosthesis?
- For new amputees, a break in schedule will be given and monitored by the patient, physical therapist, and prosthetist.
- You will slowly work your wear up to being able to wear the prosthesis all day. This normally take several weeks.
When should I wear my shrinker?
- If you are a new amputee, your shrinker should be worn 23 hours a day, except when you are bathing or washing the residual limb.
- If you have been an amputee and now have a prosthesis, you should wear your shrinker only while sleeping at night.
When do I start wearing a shrinker?
You will start wearing a shrinker when the incision line begins to heal and your physician gives you the okay to start the process.
How do I care for my shrinker?
You will be given two shrinkers so you can wash one while wearing the other. They should be washed daily. Wash your shrinker by hand or in a washing machine (in a garment bag/pillow case on the gentle cycle). Use warm water (not hot) and a mild soap. Rinse well. Then, roll in a towel to remove the excess water and lay flat to dry. DO NOT PLACE SHRINKERS IN THE DRYER.
How does my prosthesis stay on?
- There are different methods of suspension of the prothesis.
- There is anatomical, suction, elevated vacuum, shuttle-lock (pin), and lanyard systems.
- Anatomical suspension utilizes the contour of the boney prominences of the residual limb to hold on.
- Suction system area used with a cushion linter, with or without sealing bands, or direct skin contact of the residual limb. The socket has a one-way valve to expel the air out of the socket, which created negative pressure in the socket to attain suspension.
- The elevated vacuum system utilizes an eternal pump to draw the air out of the socket and obtain negative pressure inside of the socket to achieve suspension.
- The shuttle lock system consists of a pin that is threaded to the distal end (bottom) of the liner, which then engages to the locking mechanism attached to the bottom of the socket to achieve suspension.
- The lanyard system often used with transfemoral (above knee) prostheses. It consists of wearing a liner, and attached at the distal end of the liner is a Velcro strap or braided string. Then it is fed through the locking mechanism and pulled out of the bottom of the socket to obtain suspension.
How do I learn to use my prosthesis?
Your first steps using the prosthesis will be taken in our office during the fitting process. Upon receipt of the prosthesis, you will participate in a physical therapy gait training program to learn how to walk.
How long does a prosthesis last?
The Socket and componentry are expected to last 3-5 years. Either can be replaced before this time due to damage or physical change of the residual limb. It can vary from each patient’s specific needs.
How do you determine the most appropriate prosthesis for me?
- Pre-amputation Lifestyle – Hobbies, vocation, terrain, previous activities
- Objective Testing – Amp Pro, Timed Up and Go
- Patient Interview and Feedback – Education on systems, options, pros/cons of each component
How do I know if my prosthesis is fitting correctly?
Overall comfort, control, confidence, and ability to reach your goals are being met.
Can I get my prosthesis wet and/or what if my prosthesis gets wet?
Most prostheses will not tolerate water immersion. There are prostheses made that are waterproof just for the purpose of showering or swimming. Most prostheses will not be harmed with occasional raindrops or muddy puddle, however they should not be immersed into water, such as showering or swimming unless you know your device was made for that purpose. If the prosthesis does happen to get wet, dry it off as soon as possible. If you use a heating device such as a hair dryer or heat gun, make sure to use a setting that will not melt or damage the prosthesis. If you have concerns as to whether water has/or could damage the prosthesis (especially those with microprocessors and electronics) you should contact your prosthetist immediately.
Is there a difference between fresh and salt water?
The difference is salt water is more corrosive and damaging on the components of the prosthesis. You should always rinse off a prosthesis with fresh water after it has been used in salt water.
Can I wear different shoes than the ones I wore during my clinical fitting of my prosthesis?
- Your prosthesis was aligned according to your specific gait, and with the shoes you wore to the fittings. If you choose to wear shoes that were different than those worn at the fitting it may result in a noticeable discomfort when walking, or worse create conditions that could make you stumble or fall.
- The most noticeable difference in shoes is what is termed heel height. To be sure your gait remains the same, you should always wear shoes with the same heel height that were worn at your fittings. If you want to switch shoes or get a new pair and are not sure they will work, you should contact your prosthetist and make an appointment to have them checked (be sure to bring the new pair of shoes).
- Most prosthetic devices can be adjusted to accommodate a slight change in heel height. This will ensure your gait is comfortable and steady using the new shoes. If you find yourself in a position where you are changing shoe styles frequently, there are prosthetic feet manufactured that you can self-adjust depending on the shoes worn. You need to consult your prosthetist on this matter.
I have a prosthesis with locking liner suspension and the pin is stuck or the release button won’t move, and I cannot get the prosthesis off.
- Other then the locking mechanism failing (which rarely happens) the most common problem is your prosthetic sock became stuck and caught between the pin and the mechanism interface. Do not pound, hammer, or try to pry things apart using any tools that may slip and damage your prosthesis, liners, or yourself.
- Trying twisting, pulling, or gently tugging on the prosthesis. If this does not work a solution of water and dish soap, mild hand soap or such may be introduced between the skin of your residual limb and the locking liner. The idea is to break the bond or suction holding the liner on so you can easily pull it off your limb. Once you get the prosthesis off, you will need to bring it to your prosthetist and let them separate the socket and the liner.
- If that does not work, call the office and your prosthetist will remove it for you.
Can I decorate, such as paint, color, draw, or put stickers etc. on my prosthesis?
- If your prosthesis was not fabricated with any fabric or transfers that you chose initially it still may be “decorated.” Your device may have several different finishes and materials exposed that you can see. For the most part, the exterior can be “decorated” with paints, markers, stickers etc. without damaging the device or affect its purpose.
- Be sure to “test” smaller areas for compatibility beforehand. Be sure to not use any products that may be corrosive and caustic, and may damage the prosthesis.
- Do not however “dip” or immerse the prosthesis into anything.
- Most water or oil-based paint and markers, as with stickers will not hard the prosthesis. If in doubt, ask your prosthetist.