How soon after my amputation will I be able to walk?
After healing of the amputation site, a temporary prosthesis can be used to begin walking. This usually occurs within one month of amputation.
When will I be ready for a permanent prosthesis?
The permanent prosthesis is usually fit about three months after the temporary prosthesis.
How long does it take to make a 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.
How does the prosthesis stay on?
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.
Is it comfortable to walk with an artificial leg?
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.
Can I drive my car wearing a prosthesis?
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.
Can I participate in sports?
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.
What kind of shoes can I wear?
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.
How long does a prosthesis last?
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.
Can I get my prosthesis wet in the shower?
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.
What kind of maintenance is required for my prosthesis? How often do I need to see my prosthetist?
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.
Is it common to have feeling in a limb even though it is no longer there?
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.
What is the difference between a mechanical and a myoelectric artificial arm?
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.
Should I have a hook or hand for my artificial 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.
Can I speak to other amputees who have been through similar experiences?
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.