Getting a new prosthesis isn’t a quick process. Nor should it be. For starters, not everyone with an amputation wants a prosthesis, and that’s perfectly fine. For those that do, ensuring that each patient has an ideal fit for their needs is essential. They deserve the best prosthetist in Kansas City to walk them through a proven step-by-step process to find a custom solution.
At Horizon Orthotics and Prosthetic Experience, we strive to earn your trust as you transition into a new phase of your life. We’ll work alongside you and your loved ones through every step of the prosthetic process. And we’ll ensure lasting satisfaction with your new prosthesis, should you choose to get one.
In this blog, we’ll go in-depth on the prosthetic fitting process and what you can expect during each step. Keep in mind, each person is unique and no two processes will look exactly the same. Much depends on where your amputation took place and what your goals are following the process.
The Initial Grieving Process
First and foremost, it’s important to realize that a prosthesis isn’t the end goal for every amputee. Not only is that perfectly okay, but we here at HOPE KC completely understand and support everyone who feels that having a prosthesis isn’t in their best interest.
For most people who suffer limb loss, there will likely be an initial grieving period. During this time, patients may suffer from physical and emotional struggles as they adjust to life without their limb. A person may experience these struggles in a variety of different ways and for varying amounts of time.
The important thing to note is that each person is different and that every person grieves differently, if at all. For some, getting a prosthetic limb is a key part of the mourning process and an essential part of their healing. For others, they may just want to move on and forget about the incident entirely.
Regardless, there isn’t a set way to deal with the grieving process. Each person does so at their own speed and each should have the space to do what’s best for their own health and well-being. If a patient decides that a prosthetic limb is what’s best for their individual needs, the staff at HOPE KC will be ready to work with them to find a long-term solution.
Should a patient choose to get a prosthesis, HOPE KC has a set process for finding a prosthetic limb that fits your goals and lifestyle. This process starts with a comprehensive evaluation in one of our six offices around the Kansas City metro area.
To begin the process, the staff at HOPE KC believes that it’s important to establish a relationship with everyone we work with. This initial evaluation is a great opportunity for us to get to know you better and understand your goals for prosthesis. We encourage patients to actively involve themselves in selecting a prosthesis that works for them.
Everyone’s goals will be different, and ultimately the best prosthesis for you will depend on several different factors. These factors mainly include the location of your amputation, what your long-term goals are, your previous medical history, and what kind of work you do among other factors.
We also want to know what activities you enjoy and what your hobbies are. The goal of a prosthesis isn’t just to improve your body’s functionality, it’s also to help you return to your normal life as soon as possible. Part of that normalcy is being able to do the things you love with little to no hindrance.
For instance, if you enjoy sports like basketball or tennis, we can help you build a custom prosthesis specifically designed to help you enjoy those activities. If you enjoy being in the water, we can build a waterproof prosthesis that allows you to enjoy the beach, pool, or lake with your friends and family.
We use this initial evaluation as a starting point to help get you back to doing the things you love. We also use it to establish trust, so that each of our patients knows that we have their best interest at heart. Once we establish that relationship, it’s time to help you build a customized solution.
Build a Custom Solution
Assuming you’ve progressed far enough in your post-operative care, we can now move on to building a customized prosthesis. This stage of the process involves us taking the measurements and a potential 3-D scan of your limb. This helps us build a device that’s shaped to your specific residual limb.
You’ll also work with our staff in picking a suspension system and socket that will best suit your needs. Sockets hold the residual limb in place and connect it to the rest of your body, while also supporting your weight. A suspension system will be what keeps the residual limb in place.
There are several different sockets and suspension systems that you can choose from, and the choice ultimately stems from your initial consultation. Though your measurement and casts will play a factor, the lifestyle you want to live post-operation will be crucial.
Certain sockets and suspension systems fit better with certain careers and hobbies, so it’s important to draw back on the information from the initial consultation.
The fitting process develops a custom interface that is contoured to fit your body the best. During this stage, we use the measurements from the previous steps to build a mold of the residual limb. We then build a socket around that mold and integrate it into a sort of “test” prosthesis, in order to properly examine the fit and functionality of that mold.
Depending on what you decided during the building phase, we may make your prosthesis traditionally or via 3-D printer. There are pros and cons to each method, but the results are largely similar. The major benefit of 3-D printing your device is the speed at which you can build a prosthesis, although the range of materials is more limited.
Ultimately, having the proper fit for your residual limb is the most important part of this stage. Ideally, you want your prosthesis to feel like an extension of your body. An ill-fitting prosthesis can not only feel awkward, but it might cause a host of problems to your limb. That’s a primary reason why the fitting stage is so integral.
With this in mind, it’s important to realize that you may not have a perfect-fitting prosthesis right off the bat. In fact, it might take several attempts before we find the proper fit. That’s why we stress patience with each person we work with. As the best prosthetist in Kansas City, we’ll do everything we can to ensure that your prosthesis is as comfortable and long-lasting as possible.
An important part of the fitting process is the use of a compression stocking or “shrinker sock.” When a patient uses a shrinker sock, the shrinker sock helps to gradually reduce swelling in the leg post-surgery. The shrinker sock works by putting pressure on the bottom of the residual limb and compressing it into more of a cylinder shape. This allows for a better fit in your socket and a more comfortable experience with your new device.
Once we’re able to find a tailor-made fit for your residual limb, we’ll develop a final design of your prosthesis and create a customized prosthesis solution.
The final step in the initial prosthesis process is the delivery of your new prosthesis. This visit to one of our six Kansas City-area clinics will center around getting you accustomed to life with a prosthetic limb.
First, we’ll ensure that your new prosthesis fits properly and functions normally. Once we ensure the fit, our experienced clinicians will go over every detail regarding your new prosthesis. This includes your wearing schedule, proper use, proper care, and any additional information. We do all of this in order to familiarize you with your new lifestyle.
That doesn’t mean you’re finished with the process once you leave our facility that day, however. Patients will likely need to continue their rehabilitation regimen with an outside physical or occupational therapist. Obviously, this all depends on your individual plan as outlined by your health care team. If needed, HOPE KC can provide assistance and work closely with medical providers throughout the area to help you adjust to daily life with a prosthesis.
Even after you’ve received your prosthesis, follow-up appointments are necessary to ensure the smooth operation of your new prosthesis. During these follow-up appointments, we’ll assess how you’re adapting to life with your prosthesis and can make adjustments and modifications if needed.
They’ll also give us an opportunity to assess where you’re at with your individual plan and goals. As you adjust to life with your new prosthesis and develop a routine, our clinical staff can determine the best course of action for ensuring the long-term enjoyment of your favorite activities.
Remember, each individual’s prosthesis plan is different, and people will reach different milestones at different times. Although it’s human nature to compare ourselves to others and even get frustrated at our seeming lack of progress, don’t get discouraged if you’re not immediately adjusting to life with your new device.
Most importantly, follow-up appointments allow our staff to continue building a relationship with each patient we work with. If you have questions about the process and where you’re at, we can use this as a time to work through your issues. We care about your personal success, and we can help provide answers or point you in the right direction if needed.
Additional Information to Keep in Mind
As you adjust to life with your new prosthesis, here are a few additional tips to remember:
- With your actual prosthesis, you can usually expect it to last about three to five years. Sometimes this is due to worn-out parts, but more often it’s because of fluctuations in limb size. You may require different sockets and liners because of this.
- The biggest factors in residual limb changes over time usually involve activity level and diet. If you’re looking to lead a more active lifestyle with a healthier diet, this may lead to your residual limb shrinking in size. Similarly, a more sedentary lifestyle may lead to an increase in size. This size increase may also happen because of factors outside of a patient’s control, such as diabetes-related reasons.
- If you ever have questions about your device or how to operate it, the staff at HOPE KC is here to help. Our staff is highly trained and experienced in helping patients get the most from their prosthesis to ensure lasting satisfaction.
- It’s entirely normal to struggle both physically and emotionally, even after you’ve received your new prosthetic device. Specialists, therapists, and peer support groups all exist and can help you get through any potential struggles.
- Speaking of peer support groups, something that many patients find helpful are peer mentors. These are people who have dealt with the entire prosthesis process from amputation, post-op, recovery. They can help you adjust to daily life with your prosthesis, and can also act as a resource for any questions or concerns you may have.
Begin Your Prosthesis Journey With HOPE KC
If you’ve hit the necessary milestones in your post-op care and you’re ready to begin the prosthesis process, HOPE KC is ready to help.
When people work with Horizon Orthotic & Prosthetic Experience in Kansas City, they’re working with a professional clinical staff who strives to create lasting relationships. Our goal is to make sure we treat each person who walks through our doors like family, and we want to be your trusted resource throughout your prosthesis journey.
With the help of our highly trained clinical staff and our modern facilities, we can make a lasting difference in our patient’s lives. For convenience, we have six locations spanning across the Kansas City metro area, Central Kansas, and Central Missouri areas.
As the best prosthetists in Kansas City, we are a local, award-winning prosthetic and orthotic company that strives to give our patients HOPE every day.
For more information about custom prosthetics in Kansas City, contact us today.