Prosthetic Frequently Asked Questions

What is a prosthesis?

A prosthesis as defined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services as “…devices that replace all or part of an internal body organ or replace all or part of the function of a permanently inoperative or malfunctioning internal body organ.” Prosthetics include limbs, eyes, teeth, and facial bones. It is important to note that Carolina Orthotics & Prosthetics only does prostheses for limbs. There are two types of prostheses, endoskeletal and exoskeletal. Endoskeletal means that the prosthesis is supported by an internal pylon. Exoskeletal means the prosthesis is supported by an external frame.

Your Prosthetist is the person in charge of your prosthetic care. Carolina Orthotics & Prosthetics’s Prosthetists are experienced and have the skills and knowledge necessary to provide the best prosthesis for you.

What happens after my amputation?

After your amputation, a referral will be made to a prosthetics facility. When we receive a referral from a physician we see the patient while they are still in the hospital if at all possible. First the Prosthetist will introduce him or herself and explain the prosthetic process to you. Typically you are fit with a “shrinker” at this time. A “shrinker” is used for compression to control swelling and promote healing. It will also help shape the limb to prepare it for a prosthesis. There is a period of healing that can last for a varied amount of time depending on the patient. Once healing is complete, your Prosthetist will continue the prosthetic process.

How do I know who my prosthetist is?

Typically, after your surgery the Prosthetist will see you in the hospital before you are discharged. This is because the physician makes the referral to the Prosthetist while you are in the hospital. This is when they will go over the Prosthetic process with you, give you brochures, and provide you with all information necessary. Your Prosthetist will leave you with a business card for you to hold on to. The business card will have your Prosthetist’s name on it with contact information. Carolina Orthotics & Prosthetics will obtain your contact information from the hospital so we can continue the prosthetic process when you are discharged home or to another facility. We understand that there is a lot of information to keep track of when you have an amputation. Carolina Orthotics & Prosthetics will be in contact with you to help guide you smoothly through the prosthetic process. You are always encouraged to call us with any questions you may have.

How long does it take to get my prosthesis?

There is no set time frame for obtaining a prosthesis. The time frame for obtaining a prosthesis varies from patient to patient, and usually depends on healing time. If a patient has vascular deficiencies, they may not heal as quickly and this can make the process longer. Once the patient is sufficiently healed the Prosthetist will proceed with the initial evaluation, scan, and measurements. Sometimes instead of a scan, a cast is taken to obtain a plaster mold of the patient’s limb. Once this is completed the Prosthetist will proceed with the first test socket fitting. This is to test how well the socket fits from the scan or mold taken from the patient. If the test socket fits well and does not need any significant changes then the Prosthetist will proceed on to a definitive prosthesis if appropriate. Some patients may need a temporary prosthesis first. Your Prosthetist will discuss the options with you to see what is best for you and your situation.

What if my prosthesis doesn’t fit well?

Most of the time when a patient receives their first prosthesis, it is not always comfortable. There is an adjustment period where the patient will need to get used to wearing a prosthesis. You should always call your Prosthetist if something is irritating your skin or causing you pain. It is not uncommon for a prosthesis to rub in certain areas. This can be corrected by your Prosthetist to make the prosthesis more comfortable. If there is ever a time you are unable to wear your prosthesis because the socket is too large or too small, call your Prosthetist immediately. It is very important to take care of these issues as soon as possible. Various factors can cause your limb to swell, making your prosthesis tight. Also, wearing your prosthesis throughout the day can cause your limb to decrease in size. Your Prosthetist will go over these issues with you.

Do I need to set up an appointment before coming in?

Carolina Orthotics & Prosthetics strongly encourages you to schedule an appointment before coming in. Always try to call ahead of time before coming in if you are able to. This will ensure the Prosthetist is available to see you in a timely manner.

How do I know if you take my insurance?

Please call and ask if we accept your insurance. Carolina Orthotics & Prosthetics works with many types of insurance, but it’s always best to call and ask before coming in.

How often do I need to come in for a follow up?

We like to follow up with prosthetic patients every couple of months. We check the prosthesis for wear and tear, check condition of supplies such as socks and liners, and see how you are functioning with the prosthesis. Please feel free to call us if you are having any issues including but not limited to tears in your liner, or pain wearing your prosthesis. A simple adjustment might be all that is needed to keep you comfortable.

Will my prosthesis last forever?

No. Even though the components are made of durable materials, they are not meant to last forever. Eventually parts and materials break down. You may need several prostheses over your lifetime.

What if something on my prosthesis breaks?

Call Carolina Orthotics & Prosthetics immediately! It is extremely important we know about any damaged parts as soon as possible. Even if it is after hours, you can leave a message with our answering service and the on call Prosthetist will receive the message, so we can schedule you an appointment. The Prosthetist will take care of your situation to keep you comfortable and safe.

Will I need to do rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation needs will be assessed by your physician and your Prosthetist. We will work with your physician to determine if rehabilitation would benefit you. If you do require rehabilitation, your Prosthetist will coordinate follow up visits for adjustments with your physical therapist.

How do I clean my prosthetic liners (sleeves) and socks?

To clean your prosthetic liners (sleeves), turn the liner inside out so the gel is facing you. Wipe down the gel side of the liner with mild soapy water, and let air dry. It is important to keep your liners clean to keep your skin healthy.

Orthotics Frequently Asked Questions

What is an orthosis?

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, “A brace includes rigid and semi-rigid devices that are used for the purpose of supporting a weak or deformed body member or restricting or eliminating motion in a diseased or injured part of the body.” An orthosis can be pre-fabricated or custom fabricated. Pre-fabricated orthotics are those that are ready to wear and may need minor modifications for comfort, and come in various sizes. For example, the Carolina LSO is pre-fabricated and comes in a variety of sizes. Custom fabricated orthotics are created from a mold, impression, or measurements of an affected area on the patient. The process of receiving these orthotics may take longer because they must be fabricated.

How long does it take to get my orthosis?

The type of orthosis you are receiving usually dictates the time frame for delivery. If you are receiving a pre-fabricated orthosis and we have the size in stock for you, then you may receive the orthosis that day. If you were prescribed a custom orthosis, your first visit will consist of taking an impression, taking a scan, and/or measurements. These will be used to fabricate an orthosis that you will come back for at a later date. Sometimes a week or 2 is necessary for fabrication, but this time frame varies.

What if my Orthosis is uncomfortable?

Orthotics are designed to correct musculoskeletal deformities and may not always be comfortable to wear. Sometimes adjustments are needed for comfort. Your Orthotist will evaluate your orthosis and how it is affecting your comfort, and make adjustments as necessary. The Orthotist will also explain the wear schedule for orthotics. The wear schedule is designed so that you can “break in” the orthosis and give your body a chance to become accustomed to it. Always call your Orthotist if you are experiencing redness on your skin for longer than 15 minutes after taking off the orthosis, if you have developed blisters from wearing the orthosis, or if the orthosis is causing you pain.

How do I keep my Orthosis clean?

The type of material your orthosis is made of will determine how to clean it. If your orthosis contains a lot of Velcro material, you will most likely be advised to use mild soapy water on a sponge, wipe it down and let it air dry. Do not submerge Velcro underwater. If your orthosis is made of a plastic material, you will most likely be able to use mild soapy water on a sponge to wipe it down, rinse it, and let it air dry. Your Orthotist will give you instructions on how to maintain your orthosis.

How long do I wear my Orthosis?

The wear schedule for an orthosis depends largely on the condition being treated and physician’s instructions. Your Orthotist and Physician will go over this with you. For example, if a patient is wearing a Miami J cervical collar that was prescribed after a cervical fusion procedure, they may have to wear the cervical collar for approximately 4 weeks until the physician tells them they do not have to wear it anymore. Usually you stop wearing an orthosis after a condition has resolved, and this is always determined by your physician.