Prosthetic frequently asked questions
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.