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Five Things to Consider when Buying a Prosthetic

April 10, 2015

Considering Prosthetics

Getting a prosthetic is a very involved process. Once the limb has been amputated, the first step is recovery, so that the surgical scar heals properly. The recovery usually takes at least two weeks, after which the patient can begin the rehabilitation process and practising with the artificial limb. Here are some points to consider, and discuss with your prosthetist before making your choice.

Comfort: The level of comfort a prosthetic offers is very important, especially when you use it day to day. If the prosthetic causes any kind of irritation or swelling around the residual limb, consult with your prosthetist for an adjustment or a replacement. Comfort while moving is also important.

Requirements: One question to ask when getting fitted for a prosthetic is ‘What will I use it for?’ Each prosthetic is designed specifically for the person using it. Getting an artificial limb means getting measurements, moulds and making sure the limb fits just right. Artificial limbs are also classified on the level of activity the user is likely to be involved in. The classification, known as the K-Level starts from K-Zero to K-4, which indicates the lifestyle of the person with the prosthetic.

Environment: The environment is a very important factor to take into account when buying a prosthetic. The weather and the environs can affect your prosthetic and the limb remnant. Dry weather, humidity and cold all affect the way a prosthetic works. Dry skin can cause friction and irritation with the prosthetic and humidity causes sweat to accumulate, causing discomfort. Sand can affect prosthetic joints and salt water can corrode them if exposed. The residual limb and the stump can also be affected if the lining and socks are exposed to the elements and not washed thoroughly after.

Wearing Schedule: Adjusting to a prosthetic takes time and effort. Once the amputee has healed and completed physical therapy, he or she is fitted with a prosthetic. After the fitting has been completed, many adjustments and refits are made. A prosthetist always prescribes a wearing schedule to ease the patient into using an artificial limb with a minimum amount of wear-time, including standing and walking. The time is slowly increased if the patient shows no signs of discomfort.

Other Factors:

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How to adjust to a prosthetic

December 18, 2014

Amputation is a triple threat. It involves loss of function, loss of sensation, and loss of body image. The wonder of it is that so many adapt so well, thanks to their resilience and the ingenuity and dedication of those who care for them. It takes a lot of psychological strength to adapt to such conditions. Some might not know how to prepare themselves for a prosthetic.
Those individuals who have had adequate warning and preparation fare better in the immediate postsurgical period, whereas those who do not receive such preparation tend to react negatively or with massive denial.
Before surgery, the surgeon, prosthetist, and the physical therapist should discuss plans and goals with the patient. Also, before surgery, you should discuss what happens after surgery with a peer counselor who has had an amputation. Exercises to increase muscle strength and flexibility are taught by a physical therapist before and after amputation. Some exercises depend on the type of amputation. You need to do exercises to help reduce swelling in the stump and prevent contracture of tissues in the stump, which stiffens tissues, limits the joint’s range of motion, and thus makes using a prosthesis more difficult.
Once the wound has healed, you may be ready for a prosthesis (artificial leg). A prosthesis can help you regain the ability to walk. You’ll start by working with a prosthetist. This is an expert who makes and fits the prosthesis. At first, you’ll be fitted with a preparatory(sometimes called temporary) prosthesis. Later, you’ll get your definitive (sometimes called permanent) prosthesis. In some cases, the preparatory prosthesis will serve as the definitive prosthesis. Your activity level and goals help decide the type of definitive prosthesis that will be best for you.
The preparatory prosthesis is fairly basic in design. It has a socket, which fits around your residual limb. The socket is attached to a pylon (pipe) that supports your limb. Or, the socket may lead to a knee-like joint, if needed. The pylon then extends down to a solid foot piece. The foot piece has a cover that makes it look more like a natural foot.
You may work with both your prosthetist and physical therapist to practice gait training. This means learning to walk with your prosthesis. You’ll likely begin by learning to stand using parallel bars. The bars help you get used to putting weight on your prosthesis. Then you’ll progress to slow walking, using the bars for support. When you’re ready, you’ll practice walking with an aid, such as a walker or cane.
Watch for signs of poor fit. Proper fit of your prosthesis is very necessary for comfort and good function. Contact your prosthetist if you notice:
1. Your prosthesis feels heavy or hard to move. This may mean it is too loose.=
2. Blisters or open sores on your residual limb. The prosthesis may be too loose or too tight in certain places. If this happens, stop wearing the prosthesis until you see the prosthetist. You may also need to see your doctor to treat wounds or skin problems.
3. Your residual limb moves up and down within the socket as you walk (pistoning). Your limb should fit snugly into the socket of the prosthesis. Pistoning means that the prosthesis is too loose.
The socket of your prosthesis may need to be replaced every 2–8 years. And parts of the prosthesis can be changed if they are not meeting your needs. Wear clean prosthetic socks every day to help prevent skin problems. Wash your socks and socket liner (depending on type) as directed by the manufacturer.