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Frequently Asked Questions
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After healing of the amputation site, a temporary prosthesis can be used to begin walking. This usually occurs within one month of amputation.
The permanent prosthesis is usually fit about three months after the temporary prosthesis.
A temporary prosthesis takes about one week to make. A permanent prosthesis normally requires three or four trial fittings during its fabrication and is made to match your sound leg. The time varies from four to six weeks.
A prosthesis can be designed several ways according to individual needs. One is with a strap suspension; another uses a suction socket that requires no straps. For below-knee amputees, a suspension sleeve can fit over the prosthesis and knee.
Yes. The key to comfort is an exact fit. A clear test socket enables the prosthetist to visually check and refine the fit before final fabrication. The prosthesis is also designed to support your weight on the strongest and least vulnerable parts of your leg. As changes occur in your leg, your prosthetist can make adjustments to maintain comfort.
Most amputees can drive a car. Some require that the car be equipped with hand controls. A right leg amputee can use a simple left foot gas accelerator extension.
Technological advances have resulted in stronger and lighter materials. New energy-storing, resilient prosthetic feet have enabled amputees to run, jump and engage in a wide range of athletic activities. Ask your prosthetist how your prosthesis can be made to accommodate your lifestyle and activities.
You will be asked to select a shoe of your choice at the time the prosthesis is made. Once the prosthesis is made, different shoes may be used as long as the heel height is the same. A low heeled shoe is recommended for stability.
On the average, the prosthesis requires replacement every 2 to 4 years. A prosthesis may need to be replaced when it no longer fits, long before it wears out. Normal changes in the musculature of your leg following amputation will affect the fit of the prosthesis. Weight gain or loss of 5 pounds may also affect the fit.
Normally, a prosthesis is made up of parts which should not be allowed to get wet. Your prosthetist can design a waterproof prosthesis which can be taken into the shower or swimming pool.
It is advisable that you see your prosthetist every six months. Regardless of when you last saw your prosthetist, you should always contact him/her immediately if you are experiencing discomfort or if the prosthesis needs repair.
Yes. This is called phantom sensation and is common among many amputees. If it is uncomfortable, it is called phantom pain. For many amputees the discomfort ceases shortly after amputation. Others experience phantom pain for a number of years. Some treatments that have worked are certain medications, exercise, heat or cold applications, acupuncture, and biofeedback. Consult your physician for the treatment that is best for you.
A mechanical arm requires cables and a harness to operate the hook or artificial arm. A myoelectric arm is controlled by nerve signals and does not require cables or a harness. These signals are transmitted through electrodes placed on the surface of the skin. Most arm amputees have a mechanical prosthesis even if they later get a myoelectric arm.
A hook is a lighter, more functional, more durable and versatile option, requiring less maintenance than an artificial hand. The artificial hand more closely resembles a human hand and is preferred by those for whom appearance is of primary importance. A hook and hand are interchangeable on an arm prosthesis and some people have both.
People who have been through similar experiences may be able to help with many of your concerns. Many have offered to speak with you. If you would like to arrange to meet with another amputee, call Sierra Orthopedic Laboratory, Inc. at (707) 528-9808 or visit our contact page.