The Prosthesis Process

The prosthesis process should begin before the surgery. Visit a prosthesis pre-surgery to discuss all the pros and cons of wearing a prosthesis.

Every surgeon and prosthetist is going to have their own process they use. The following is my experience. While it might not be exactly what you will follow, it will give you a good idea what to expect. The differences will not be significant.

The actual process should begin before you leave the hospital. You, your surgeon or hospital should have notified the prosthetist that you will be having the surgery so they can make a hospital visit with you.

In the hospital – You will meet with your prosthetist. They will go over the process and provide you with a stump shrinker.

Stump ShrinkerEvaluations – I went through a series of evaluations to justify the level of leg that would give me the best function to return to my active life. The evaluations were also used for justification for the insurance company.

Physical Therapy Evaluation – This evaluated my level of functioning. I was asked to perform a series of activities such as, stand on my remaining leg for 30 seconds without any other support, transfer from one chair to another without using arms or any support, bending to pick an object off the floor without any support, walking with crutches and climbing stairs using crutches. This evaluation was used to access my physical condition for the physical therapy I would require and to justify my leg to the insurance company.

IMG_0566Evaluation with Physical Rehabilitation Doctor – This was to evaluate what level of leg I would require, once again based on my current physical condition and what I hoped to accomplish with a prosthesis. This report was also given to my insurance company.

Surgeons Clearance – At around 6 to 8 weeks you will get clearance from your doctor for leg fitting. This is providing the wound has healed well.

Casting for Socket – In this visit with your prosthetist you will be measured and your stump will be casted for the preparatory prosthesis.

This is the cast that my temporary leg will be made from.

This is the cast that my temporary leg will be made from.

Fittings – This will be the process where all the adjustments will be made in the leg. Once all the adjustments have been made you will take delivery of your leg.

Test leg 1st fitting

Test leg 1st fitting

Preparatory Prosthesis – This will be the leg that you learn to walk with and helps to shape the stump. As you use the leg the stump will lose volume and it will become desensitized. Basically, the temporary leg helps to reduce the swelling, gets you used to having a leg on and teaches you how to use a prosthesis.

Learning to walk – For the best long-term results it is recommended that getting accustomed to wearing the leg and applying full weight through it be gradual. The stump and the skin need to adapt to having the prosthesis on. The first lesson in using the prosthesis will be from the prosthetist, and after that a physical therapist will guild you.

Definitive Prosthesis – You will get this leg when most of the changes have occurred in the residual leg. This will be a permanent leg and is built to last for several years.

For the first year after getting your definitive leg you will have regular follow-up visits. Lots of adjustments will most likely need to be made for ultimate comfort and performance. After the first year, maintenance and function checkups are usually made annually.

Interesting link to read about prosthetic limbs: