New Amputee

As a new amputee you no-doubt have many questions.  We will attempt to answer some of these questions here but you are encouraged to call our office so that we can introduce you to someone from our “Peer Support Program”.  We will attempt to pair you with someone who has a similar amputation level who can answer  questions based on experience.  Also, we have included for you some of our favorite links to websites that will provide you with a wealth of information.  So with that said, here is what you can expect when you go to your prosthetist for the first time.

Process

  • Pre-Surgical Consultation +

    Sometimes amputations are planned and many are researched. Injuries sustained years ago may have worsened over time requiring removal of the affected ankle or knee. In these cases it is not uncommon for a patient to “shop around” for a prosthetist. We encourage interviews because we feel that the relationship between a patient and their prosthetist is very important as it should last years, if not decades. Because of the personal nature of limb loss you should feel comfortable with your prosthetist on both a personal and professional level. During this appointment we encourage you to meet our staff, tour the facility, learn about the clinicians experience and express your concerns and expectations. Your prosthetist will give you literature to help educate you on support groups and modern technology. You will be shown examples of current prosthetic components as well and probably meet some of our current patients who are getting adjustments to their prosthesis. Do not be afraid, we go to great lengths to make you feel at home in a comfortable and family like atmosphere.
  • Surgery +

    After your surgery you will require a shrinker or protective cover for your amputated limb. Your physician will order this. A shrinker is an elastic bandage or material that helps control swelling in your limb. It will help to shape your limb and control pain. Your doctor may choose to order an IPOP (Immediate Post-Operative Prosthesis) instead of the shrinker. The IPOP may or may not have a foot attached to it. Usually it is just a protective covering for your limb so that you don’t bump it on accident, or should you fall it will provide protection as well.
  • Initial Evaluation +

    Whether you have chosen our facility or you were sent here by your physician, know that you will be receiving the best prosthetic care available. During this visit at our office you and your prosthetist will discuss everything needed to plan your prosthetic rehabilitation. Your limb will be evaluated and your prosthetist will ask questions that will help design your initial or “temporary” prosthesis. At this time you can ask questions you may have regarding your care and the timelines associated with prosthetic fitting. In the beginning your limb is sore and swollen. You were probably provided an ACE elastic bandage at the hospital and works well for the first couple of weeks. Your physician will prescribe a shrinker for you now as you can tolerate more compression at this point. A shrinker is elastic stocking that slides over your limb and provides compression at all hours of the day to control swelling. You will wear the shrinker at all times unless you are bathing. The shrinker also will help with controlling phantom pain should you have it. It is customary to start the process for your temporary prosthesis between 6 weeks and 2 months. This depends on the rate of healing and your physician’s philosophy regarding the appropriate time to begin weight bearing. At that time an impression will be taken of your limb. This is called a casting.
  • Temporary Casting +

    During this appointment your prosthetist will take an impression of your residual limb. This is usually done with a casting material that is similar to what is used when casting a broken limb. This cast gives us an exact replica of your limb and is called a “negitive” impression. This lets us design a custom fitting prosthetic interface for your limb. This process usually takes a week or so to complete.
  • Initial Fitting +

    Today is the day that you will stand for the first time. The cast that was taken of your limb at your last appointment is now attached to your prosthetic foot, or knee and foot if you are a trans-femoral amputee. The “socket” may be clear and see-through. This is called a “check socket” and its purpose is to allow us to adjust the fit so that it is comfortable for you to stand up on. Because this is so early in your prosthetic rehabilitation it is important to note that you will be standing with partial weight-bearing and not your full weight. Over time you will be able to place more and more weight on the prosthesis until finally you can walk without crutches or a cane. If the socket fits well you may be asked to take some steps in the parallel bars. Here you can place most of your weight in your arms and take gentle steps. It is during this time that your prosthetist will make sure that the foot is placed under your socket appropriately so that you have good balance and a smooth rollover from heel to toe. For some, they are able to walk in the bars without difficulty. This varies from individual to individual and may just take more time and more healing for some to do it comfortably. Your prosthetist will keep the prosthesis to be finished into a more durable material. It will not have a cosmetic cover at this point because many adjustments will need to be made as you progress in your rehabilitation. It will have a foot that you can wear regular shoes on though so remember to bring your shoes to the next appointment!
  • Delivery +

    Today is the day you will take home your prosthesis. Hopefully you brought two shoes as it is very common to forget. We will give you simple instructions as how to take care of your limb and things to watch out for in the future. You will also be given some preliminary gait training as well. You would benefit from some formal physical therapy and we highly encourage this. Touchdown weight bearing is all you will be placing on your prosthesis. Your prosthetist will give you instruction as to what this means and explain the progression to full weight bearing over the next few weeks. Remember, your limb is going to shrink due to the reduction in swelling and atrophy of the muscles. This is normal. Because of this you will have to take up the space in your socket as you become smaller in size. You will do this with prosthetic stump socks. They come in different thicknesses so you can get the fit snug again. It is very important to understand that this stage is called the temporary fitting because the prosthesis is temporary. Over the first year or so your limb will continue to shrink and you will have to return to the prosthetist often to make adjustments to keep the fit nice and snug. It is not common to replace the prosthetic socket once, if not twice, during the temporary stage as it will get to a point where it is just too large to walk on. This is good. It means that you are progressing forward to a stable size. When you achieve this state, it is then that we will cast you for your permanent or final prosthesis.
  • Definitive Casting +

    Congratulations! You have made it to a stable limb volume. What this means is that you are ready for your final or definitive prosthesis. It is at this point that you and your prosthetist will discuss the many different types of prosthetic feet, knees, ankles and socket designs. You will get the chance to walk on the different components and see which one suits your lifestyle. For example, some use computers to control their movements but require charging and increased maintenance. Together, with your prosthetist, you will determine what components work best for your lifestyle. Much like the temporary casting, you will have an impression taken of your limb and a check socket will be fabricated for evaluation purposes for your next visit.
  • Real World Testing +

    Before you definitive prosthesis is finished it is very important that the fit be just right. To ensure this, we take extra steps to ensure a precise fit. After achieving a good fitting socket and choosing components, you will take the prosthesis home with you to test in what we call the “real world”. It is easy to walk in the office and feel that a prosthesis is fitting well but we like to see how it handles stairs, rocks, grass, carpet, curbs....you get the picture. You test it and if it passes we will put the finishing touches on it.
  • Finishing +

    When the prosthesis fits and functions to everyone’s satisfaction we will finish the prosthesis. This means that we will discard the check socket and create a final carbon fiber socket. Many people choose to leave the prosthesis uncovered and in a “robotic” state but if you wish to have it cosmetically covered we can custom shape a cover to match your sound side limb so it looks more realistic. You can even have our technician color match it while you are here in the office for a more precise match.
  • Welcome +

    Congratulations! You have made it through the first year. It wasn’t easy but the end result is worth the effort. This doesn’t mean you won’t ever see us again, however. You will need to return for adjustments as your body changes. Also, your prosthesis is a mechanical device. Much like a car or house, it will need repairs once and a while. So, if we have done our job correctly, our relationship will last years and you will return to a normal, fulfilling life. Thank you for choosing Artificial Limb Specialists. You are now part of the family!
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Artificial Limb Specialists

Artificial Limb Specialists is a patient care facility dedicated to rebuilding the lives of amputees. Your success is our success. Welcome to the family!

Contact Us

Phoenix (602) 745-2080
Mesa (480) 969-3999
Email info@limbspecialists.com
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