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PREPARING FOR YOUR VISIT

Wrist Brace

ABOUT YOUR VISIT 

You will be seen at the clinic or your facility by a Prosthetist or Orthotist. Orthotic and prosthetic devices need to be prescribed by your physician. Once the prescription and treatment plan are developed, you will be scheduled for the same day or a future appointment with the next available prosthetist or orthotist. If you prefer to see the same person each time you visit, you may call us in advance to schedule an appointment. At various times, a technician may step in to assist with repairs or various steps in the fabrication process.

WHAT SHOULD I BRING TO THE VISIT?

Each time you come for an appointment, please bring all equipment you use, including the prosthesis or orthosis, any socks, liners or special pads, crutches, walkers, etc. For lower limbs, please also bring a pair of loose-fitting shorts. This allows us to more easily take casts or measurements and to check and modify the devices as needed. For arm prostheses, a loose-fitting T-shirt or tank top is preferred.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT DURING AN ORTHOTICS VISIT?

Each orthosis is custom-fitted, with many being custom-fabricated specifically for you, often by using a mold to appropriately size the orthosis and reshape key areas based on the orthopedic needs. When making a custom device, we typically mold the patient at the first visit and see them back in approximately two-four weeks for fitting and delivery of the device. For the Pediatric Patients, as a patient grows, the orthotics team makes adjustments to the brace or braces to ensure a good fit. A brace typically lasts about one year before needing to be replaced due to growth. 


Orthotists and monitor and adjust orthoses throughout the treatment process, ensuring that each patient receives the best care possible.  

 

WHAT CAN I EXPECT DURING A PROSTHETICS VISIT?

Our staff prosthetists create a custom-made prosthesis for each patient. It takes approximately four to six weeks to complete the first three stages of developing a prosthesis. When required, physical or occupational therapy is needed, usually over a one- to two-week period.

The steps to make a prosthesis include:

  • Evaluation, Measurement and Molding (Casting): 1-2 hours

  • Test Socket Fitting: 1-2 hours

  • Alignment/Wearing Trial: 2-4 hours

  • Delivery: 1-2 hours

  • Training (If Needed): Usually 1-2 hours per day, over several weeks

Prosthetics staff members also work closely with therapists who train patients to use their prostheses in everyday activities. Physical therapy or occupational therapy is usually required for first-time prosthetic fittings and when a major change in prosthetic design or patient goals requires further training. Patients should bring their most recent prosthesis to each appointment and wear clothes appropriate for being casted or measured.

WHAT ARE THE STAGES OF MAKING A PROSTHESIS?

  • Impression/Measurement Stage: Prosthetists will scan or make a plaster mold of the residual limb that will be fitted.

  • Test Fitting: Patient is fitted with a clear plastic socket.

  • Alignment: Components such as feet and knees are added. The patient is given some initial training and a chance to try out the system. Usually, temporary, adjustable components are used so that changes to the position, height and angle of the prosthesis can be made.

  • Physical Therapy: The Patient receives in-depth training on how to use the device, how to gradually apply more weight onto the prosthesis and how to do other routine activities, such as climb stairs.

  • Delivery: After the patient goes through alignment and training, the prosthetic components are attached in a more permanent, durable way. The device is then completed with a cosmetic finish. Each patient determines how their prosthesis looks. Some are skin-toned and natural looking, some are sporty and brightly colored, while others may not have a cover at all, looking a bit more “high tech.” These choices reflect the needs and preferences of the person wearing the device.

  • Follow-up: Because the patient's condition and residual limb changes frequently, they are usually seen at least four times per year for adjustments to the prosthesis. On average, prostheses need to be replaced about every   four years with adjustments in between.

HOW LONG BEFORE I GET THE PROSTHESIS?

Some people are ready for their temporary prosthesis as early as 2-weeks following the removal of all staples and sutures. This will vary from person to person. As a general rule, when the surgical site is fully healed and most of the swelling has disappeared, you will be ready for the next step. Each patient’s healing time differs depending on their overall health condition.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I WEAR THE STUMP SHRINKER?

You should wear your shrinker 23 hours per day (unless told differently by your physician) and change it every other day. If you do not have a second shrinker, another one can be purchased, usually through your insurance. Your shrinker should be removed when bathing, and if any numbness or tingling occurs; please contact your practitioner immediately. We carry shrinkers for Above Knee Amputees, and for Below Knee Amputees.

HOW LONG BEFORE I CAN WALK AGAIN?

Walking will vary because healing is different for each person. On average, healing time will range from 1-3 months. However, it could be longer for patients with diabetes or other health related issues. Your ability to walk is determined by how hard you work in therapy, and regain strength and range of motion.

 

WILL I ALWAYS HAVE PHANTIOM PAIN/SENSATION? 

Phantom pain will also vary from person to person. Some people never experience it, while others experience it from time to time forever. Often times when you are fit with your prosthesis, the pain or sensation may decrease due to the total contact provided by the socket. Sometimes, stump shrinkers also provide relief and there are a number of techniques that can be used to reduce phantom pains that your therapist will discuss with you.

WILL I NEED THERAPY TO LEARN TO USE MY PROSTHSISIS? 

Physical and Occupational Therapy plays a very important part in your rehabilitation process. You will learn new techniques for walking which are key to a speedy recovery.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE AND FIT A PROSTHESIS?

The fabrication of a prosthesis is a very labor intensive process, requiring multiple fittings to ensure the best fit. Insurance authorization also plays a key role in delivering a prosthetic device. Once authorization is obtained, it will take about 2 weeks, provided we can obtain all of the parts from manufacturers.

WHAT IS A PROSTHESIS MADE OF?

NORTHERN  uses state of the art materials and componentry. This includes plastics, acrylics, polyester laminates, titanium, carbon graphite, aluminum and steel. The type of componentry used will be customized based on weight capacity and what is best for your optimal function. Insurance coverage also will determine what type of componentry will be used.

HOW MUCH DOES A PROSTHESIS COST?

The prosthetic industry is constantly changing and improving the componentry and fabrication of prosthetic limbs. A comprehensive range would be depending on the individual needs of each person. Microprocessor technology is one of the most recent additions and can be expensive. Insurance coverage plays a large part in determining the cost. It is important to inquire about your co-pays and deductibles prior to being serviced so that you are fully aware of any out-of-pocket cost you may incur.

 

HOW LONG WILL I BE WEARING MY FORST PROSTHESIS BEFORE IT CAN BE CHANGED?

On average, most patients will wear a temporary prosthesis for 6 months to 1 year depending on how quickly the residual limb stabilizes.

HOW MUCH PHYSICAL ENERGY WILL I BE EXERTING WITH MY PROSTHESIS?

Below knee amputee – 9% more energy than a non-amputee
Above knee amputee – 60% more energy than a non-amputee
Bilateral below knee amputee – 180% more energy than a non-amputee
Bilateral above knee amputee – 260% more energy than a non-amputee

WILL MY RESIDUAL LIMB CHANGE IN SIZE? 

Yes, your residual limb will shrink as the swelling goes down and will change from a bulbous shape to a thinner, cone like shape. There are various methods used for reducing the swelling that include wrapping the limb, and exercises.

HOW OFTEN DO I WASH/CLEAN MY LINER?

Inside of your liner should be washed every night. Make sure it is cleaned thoroughly to remove any layers of bacteria/dirt build-up. In addition, you should disinfect your liner once a week by cleaning it with rubbing alcohol.

DO I HAVE TO COME TO THE CLINIC TO BE SEEN?

Not necessarily, however, better and more efficient service can be provided when we see patients in our office. This allows us to access the tools in our lab and allows us to make adjustments to your prosthesis quickly and efficiently. If transportation and/or physical challenges are difficult for you, a home visit can be arranged by calling our office.

WHAT RENOVATIONS WILL HAVE TO BE MADE TO MY HOME? 

The number of renovations to your home will depend upon your personal needs. Many patients will need a shower chair, detachable shower head and grab rails for the bathroom. You may also need to consider a ramp for the entrance to your home.

WILL I BE ABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN SPORTS? 

Yes, there are amputees involved in just about every sport. If you have participated in sports prior to your amputation, you can probably continue afterwards. Many sports have organized programs for amputees. Please be sure and let your prosthetist know about your desire to play sports, so they can design your prosthesis with that in mind. Most sport-specific prosthetics are not covered by insurance, you may incur an out-of-pocket cost.

 

CAN MY PROSTHESIS BE CUSTOMIZED?

Speak with your Prosthetist about this, NORTHERN Team will work with you to customize your prosthesis to your liking!

Would you like to receive a complimentary in-person or online consultation with our clinical team?  Please contact us

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