The New Amputee's Guide to Prosthetics

September 02, 2021
The New Amputee's Guide to Prosthetics

Approximately 2 million people are living with limb loss in the United States. Right now, about 500 amputations take place each day in the U.S. alone. 

This means that every day, hundreds of Americans are beginning their prosthesis journey. 

What does a new amputee need to know as they begin this journey? Read on to learn the basics of prosthetics and the value of working with the right medical professionals. First, let's start at the beginning: consulting with a doctor.

Consult With a Doctor 

The first step in any prosthesis journey is consulting with a physician.

A doctor will be able to determine if a patient is ready for a prosthesis after healing from amputation surgery. 

A new amputee's doctor will also be able to provide guidance on how they think a patient should proceed. They will start by assessing the patient's condition. Based on this assessment, the doctor will then determine what type of prosthetic the patient will need. Before a patient leaves this appointment, however, it is important to come prepared with a set of basic questions.

Ask Questions

A patient should ask their doctor for two things during this consult. 

First, they should ask for their patient records and referring physician notes. These will be essential for the prosthetist. While a physician's office should forward these notes to the prosthetist a patient ends up using, it's a good idea for a patient to have a copy as well.

Second, a patient should ask their doctor for multiple referrals for prosthetists and orthopedic rehab facilities. The patient should ask questions like:

  • Which practice have they heard good things about?
  • Who have they had positive experiences working with?
  • Who would they want to see if they or a family member were in the patient's place? 

Make sure to ask for more than one referral or recommendation. Choosing a prosthetist is an incredibly important decision. A patient should shop around and interview multiple prosthetists before making a final decision. 

Communicate Wants and Needs of Prosthetics

The right prosthesis is found by understanding what an amputee wants and needs from their prosthetic. For example, a good prosthetist will consider the following questions:

  • Is the patient looking for a prosthetic that is more cosmetic or functional?
  • Does the prosthetic need to accomplish something in order to help the amputee continue their job, such as lift an object or bear weight?
  • How active does the amputee plan to be? Are they looking for a prosthetic that will help them navigate around their home? Or do they want to be able to run a 10-kilometer race? 

A patient should share with their healthcare team their occupation, hobbies, and goals. What does the patient want to be able to do?

It's helpful when an amputee has already thought about what they want from their prosthetic before their first meeting with their prosthetist.

Have a Prosthetics Expert in Your Corner 

New amputees may have lots of questions and concerns when they start their prosthesis journey. The great thing is, there are lots of medical experts who are ready to help - it's their job and their passion. 

In addition to physicians and prosthetists, physical therapists and occupational therapists are other valuable members of an amputee's support team. 

An experienced orthopedic rehab team can help an amputee with prosthesis recommendations, fitting, and training.

How We Can Help

What if a patient hasn't found the right prosthetist? What if they don't know what they want and need from prosthetics? Orthopedic rehab specialists can help!

New amputees should consider speaking to rehab specialists as they begin the journey of prosthesis. If you live in the North Alabama area, Therapy Achievements, LLC is the perfect place to start. 

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.