First Prosthesis or New Prosthesis? - Let's Start!
If you're a brand new amputee, or have been in a prosthesis already and it's been some time since you were last fit, the experience will be pretty similar when it comes down to the basic steps and what to expect.
1. As a new amputee or existing amputee, a very important part of having a prosthesis is establishing care with a physician that understands what your needs are as an amputee; whether that is your existing primary care doctor who has known you for many years, or a physical medicine and rehab doctor (PMR) that has come into the picture since your amputation. Having a good relationship with this doctor will help in obtaining the compliant documentation that insurances require in order to receive coverage for the prosthesis.
When it comes time to get a new prosthesis, a face to face visit with this physician will be necessary to discuss the prosthesis and what your needs are.
2. If you're a new amputee and getting your first leg, you've likely already been talking with your prosthetist here at Winkley during the past few weeks of healing.
Something that is important at this step is a touch-point with your prosthetist to discuss what type of prosthesis is going to work the best for you and the activities or goals that you'd like to return to or accomplish. A lot of the questions that we will ask have to do with the type of living situation you have (ie, an apartment with no elevator, or 10 steps into the front door of your 2 level home), responsibilities at home, and hobbies or interests you might have.
All of these things come together to help figure out what parts or components will help you achieve returning to a new normal with your prosthesis.
3. If you've been wearing a prosthesis already, and find the prosthesis has begun to limit your activity and cause pain throughout the day that cannot be managed with socks or socket adjustments, it would be a good time to visit with your prosthetist and discuss what has changed.
4. At this point once you've had a visit with your physician to discuss the new changes or problems with an existing prosthesis your prosthetist will do an evaluation and take measurements, 3D scan or cast your limb with plaster. With this information, we will be able to create, modify and customize the shape of your prosthetic socket.
5. Once all of the prescription, evaluation and physician documentation has been collected and found compliant for your insurance, our Winkley patient advocate team will be able to move forward with any prior authorizations if needed. Once prior authorization is obtained for coverage of the prosthesis, the fittings can start!
6. The first fitting appointment will be assessing the fit of a test socket, and may be set up for alignment on top of a prosthetic foot. With what we refer to as a "test" socket or a diagnostic socket, we are able to see through from the outside to assess the fit on top of your limb and are able to see gapping, pressure and able to heat the thermoplastic up to make adjustments while you are here. From this appointment we will be able to decide how well the socket is fitting, and whether or not additional test sockets might be utilized. You should expect several fitting appointments to occur before the whole prosthesis will be finalized with the definitive, customized to you, socket.