The end goal of a prosthesis is to help you live life fully again. At Horizon Orthotic & Prosthetic Experience, we put all of our experience and attention into getting you back to doing the things you love. That said, there’s a bit that goes into the journey of finding the right prosthesis in Kansas City for your needs.
Fortunately, our clinical staff can help guide you through every step of that process and help you build a new beginning. With six different locations across the Kansas City metro, we provide expert care that’s tailored to your unique needs and have the technology to make your goals a reality.
Not every amputee gets a prosthesis, and that’s perfectly okay! It’s ultimately up to the individual to decide if an artificial limb is right for them. However, if you’re ready to get started, consider this blog your first step! Read on below to learn more about our process for finding the best prosthesis for you.
The first step that goes into finding the best prosthesis for you is an initial consultation.
Before anything else, HOPE KC wants to make sure that we establish a relationship with our patients so we can better assist them and perform our jobs at a higher level. We want it to be clear from day one that we care about the people we’re assisting and that we’re invested in their long-term happiness.
To find the best prosthesis for you, it’s important for us to know what you did before amputation. This includes things like:
- What kind of hobbies you have
- The work you do
- Your individual goals
- What kind of terrain you’ll be working on in the future
- And more!
Additionally, it’s important for clinical staff to know other critical information about your particular situation. Again, this is done in order to make your prosthesis specifically designed for your needs. Some things we’ll need to know include:
Reason for Amputation and Prior Injury History
One reason we do this is to gain a better understanding of what you’re currently experiencing in terms of pain points, as well as develop a personalized treatment plan for you. The condition of your amputated limb is going to have a major impact on your functional potential. We’ll also need to know if you have any additional traumatic injuries in your history for this reason as well.
We also go over this information because your amputation level is going to affect what you’re able to do after receiving your prosthesis. For instance, amputation below the knee is going to give you a greater potential of allowing you to resume your normal activities than an amputation above the knee.
If your amputation is below the knee, you’ll have a higher likelihood of getting back to your normal activities because you still have your knee. This makes walking and running much easier than a mechanical knee would do. If your amputation is above the knee, the functional potential is impacted because of the fact that the mechanical knee will not be as functional as the knee that you lost. Similar differences in potential exist between those who’ve had amputations above or below the elbow.
What You Did Prior to Amputation
Ultimately, the goal of an initial consultation is to get a better understanding of what you hope to accomplish with your prosthetic. After we learn more about your reason for amputation, we’ll design something that’s specifically tailored to you and your day-to-day lifestyle and activities.
We also want to create a design that allows you to do the hobbies you love, whether that’s playing tennis, riding bikes, gardening, or otherwise.
At the end of the day, though, it’s important to remember that there’s no one prosthetic device that will allow you to do everything you used to do but the clinical team a HOPE KC will be able to design a prosthesis that fits your primary daily needs and desires If an amputee has a specialty activity with which their daily prosthesis does not function optimally, a specialty prosthesis is often required. For instance, if you’re a college sprinter, you’ll probably need a prosthetic device that’s specifically designed for that purpose.
The primary focus is on designing a prosthesis that allows you to do most of your previous activities. We will find what’s most important to you, and then design your prosthesis to fit your needs. If you have specific needs, we can meet those needs. For example, we can equip you with a waterproof prosthesis if going to the beach is an important part of your life. No matter what your goals and needs may be, the clinical team at HOPE KC strives to not only meet those goals but exceed them!
Building a Custom Solution
Once we complete the initial consultation and evaluation, the next step to find the best prosthetic design for you and then to design and build your custom solution.
For this, we’ll take the necessary measurements and ask for a cast or 3D scan of your limb. Once we receive this scan, we’ll begin the process of building your custom prosthesis. HOPE KC builds all types of prosthetic devices, including lower extremity prosthetics and upper extremity prosthetics.
Above and Below the Knee Prosthetics
Below knee prosthetics are for those who’ve had amputation through the tibia, aka the shin bone. This prosthesis is held in place by a form of suspension, and also contains a conformed socket, alignable pylon, and foot/ankle.
Above knee prosthetics also contain a form of suspension and a conformed socket, but with an added prosthetic knee in addition to a prosthetic ankle and foot.
Above the knee prosthetics, as we mentioned, are a bit more challenging when it comes to being able to resume all of your normal activities before amputation. This is because above-knee sockets can go as high as the pelvic bone or inner groin.
HOPE KC offers different arm prosthesis for patients to choose from, including traditional above the elbow prosthetics and advanced myoelectric and bionic prosthetics.
Traditional above the elbow prosthetics give you a variety of options to choose from when selecting. These include:
- Traditional dual harnessing systems
- Traditional hooks and functional hands
- Body-powered cable and harness prosthetics
- Lifelike cosmetic options
- Wrist units, lift assists, nudge controls
- Hybrid socket designs with cables and myoelectric components
Myoelectric and bionic prosthetics are a more technologically innovative version of prosthetics. These are battery-powered and use nerve signals that are generated by the muscles where your amputation took place.
The benefit of this advanced technology is greater precision and control in your day-to-day life, and the technology is constantly evolving. Some of the myloetric and bionic prosthetics we offer at HOPE KC include:
- I-limb, which is a bionic hand that gives you five individually powered digits and is powered by muscle signals from the residual limb.
- Be-bionics, which is also a bionic hand that allows for multiple different grip settings and is available in different size and wrist options.
- Dynamic Arm, which is myoelectrically controlled prosthetic designed for residual limbs above the elbow.
- Myoelectric and Bionic Hands
One of the most important factors when choosing the prosthesis that’s best for you is the type of socket you’ll be using.
Your socket will not only be what connects your individual limb to the rest of your prosthesis; it will also be what supports your weight. Needless to say, a comfortable socket with secure suspension is absolutely critical.
As you can imagine, the type of socket you have will depend on your individual measurements and casts, where the amputation took place, and what kind of lifestyle you want to live following the prosthesis process.
The casting process allows us to create a mold that’s perfectly tailored to the contours of your body, and a socket will be created using laminated fiberglass, nylon, or carbon materials. And there are several different sockets you can choose from. The prosthetic socket is the single most important part of any prosthesis. The clinical staff at HOPE KC possesses the highest skill level of creating a socket that gives you maximum Comfort, Control, and Proprioception.
Direct Suction Sockets
Direct Suction Sockets directly contacts your residual limb with the inner socket. Because of this, they’re both flexible and highly contoured. They also don’t require a liner, as your seal is against the inside of the socket.
We may consider using this solution on those who require prosthesis above the knee, and they certainly aren’t for everyone. Because the socket uses direct suction, any fluctuation in volume may cause the socket to lose suction and no longer hold.
This means that people with conditions that cause frequent limb volume fluctuations will not be a good candidate for this socket suspension technique. People with a short residual limb or sensitive skin conditions may benefit from a different socket suspension selection as well.
Elevated Vacuum Sockets
Included in the elevated vacuum socket’s system are a cushion liner, suspension sleeve, and a mechanical or electrical pump to remove air from the seal created by the suspension sleeve between the limb and prosthesis. We use this socket and its suspension system for above and below the knee prosthesis.
The benefit of having an electrical pump is that they allow you to take steps right away, even after sitting for long periods of time. In addition, the level of vacuum is maintained at all times. They will, however, require consistent charging. Mechanical pumps may require a few steps to raise the vacuum level and to feel tight but won’t require charging.
Like Direct Suction Sockets, Elevated Vacuum Sockets require limbs to stay at a constant volume but the elevated vacuum suspension actually helps the amputee to maintain that consistent volume. This suspension technique is contraindicated for those amputees that have extremely large fluctuations in volume, such as amputees on dialysis.
Total Surface Bearing Sockets
Total Surface Bearing Sockets cover the entire surface area of your residual limb and allow for the user to evenly distribute their weight. To ensure that even distribution, as well as comfort and control for the residual limb, a liner made of gel, silicone, or urethane is used for the socket.
Overall, your prosthetist at HOPE KC will design your socket to pressure on the limb in an effort to maximize comfort. (It’s also important a) This type of socket design also helps to ensure a balance of circulation and tightness remains at all times for the prosthesis to maximize comfort and to remain firmly attached.
Double Wall Sockets
For those with a short residual limb, Double Wall Sockets are a great option. These sockets are designed for increased comfort and feature an inner and outer socket (hence, double wall). The inner socket is secured to your limb using a liner and then connected to the outer socket using a mechanical pin. These are easily detachable if you desire to separate the two sockets.
While your socket connects your residual limb to the prosthesis, the suspension keeps it in place. The socket and suspension work hand-in-hand to create a comfortable device that acts as an extension of your body, rather than just a series of parts.
Having the right suspension system is important for a person’s proprioception. Proprioception is the sense of self-movement and body position, and having a poor suspension system can have a huge negative effect on mobility.
That’s why you’ll need to consider several factors when choosing a suspension system. Things like residual limb length, activity level, joint stability, limb volume fluctuations, vascular supply, and more play a role in the type of suspension method that is best for you and your prosthesis.
This requires some level of patience, as no one suspension system fits all. Each person is different, so there may be some trial and error before we find the suspension system that’s perfect for you and your lifestyle.
The suspension of a prosthesis is vital to the amputee’s overall functional outcome. With the optimal suspension, the amputee has the ability to maximize the prosthetic Comfort, Control, and Proprioception. A poor suspension system can result in a significant reduction in the ability of the amputee to achieve their goals.
Once that perfect suspension system is found, that’s when you’ll be able to start returning to the everyday activities you love. A few of the suspension systems we offer at HOPE KC include:
Belts and Straps
This suspension system is generally inexpensive as technology has advanced. Belts, straps, and cuffs will hold the prosthesis in place, and we use it for people with shorter residual limbs or when the amputee has utilized this method in previous prostheses and prefers this method.
Belts and straps can be a good option for people with fluctuations in limb volume, as they’re relatively easy to adjust, but they usually aren’t as comfortable. We use these suspension systems when other methods aren’t as successful or aren’t available.
Self-suspended (AKA Suproacondylar suspension) systems rely on a self-suspended socket to keep the limb in place, rather than straps, pumps, or valves.
They’re designed to provide a firm, tight fit thanks to a brim that extends and narrows over a joint and grabs the area. Because of its tight fit, the socket doesn’t move around nearly as much during activity.
Suction suspension systems use an atmospheric vacuum and a soft liner to hold the residual limb in place. A one-way expulsion valve will keep the limb in place as you apply weight, and the suction will allow for an even distribution of pressure to lower shear and friction.
With Suction suspension, you’ll be able to better avoid the prosthesis sliding on the skin, which causes irritation and breakdown. Changes in limb volume will impact a suction suspension, but this can be easily managed. Basically, the suction suspension is a great option to hold the limb and place and continue with normal daily activities.
The Locking Pin suspension system keeps your prosthesis secure by using a liner/cushion interface with a pin. The design creates a base by rolling the liner directly onto the limb, and the pin will secure suspension by being threaded through the far end of the liner/cushion.
The prosthesis is removed by hitting a release button on the suspension, and the locking pin will be able to handle volume fluctuations with the help of a prosthetic sock.
A Sealing Liner suspension system works by using a liner with a gasket ring on the outside portion. The gasket ring slides into the socket with lubrication, and a one-way expulsion valve allows air to escape and stay out.
This is similar to the Suction suspension we referenced earlier, only an extra suspension sleeve isn’t needed to keep the prosthesis in place.
How Long Will My Prosthesis Last?
Your prosthesis requires occasional check-ups to spot and potentially combat any issues that might pop up. Generally speaking, you can expect your prosthesis to last anywhere from about three to five years.
Though that may not seem like an exceptionally long time, new prostheses are generally needed because of limb fluctuations rather than parts wearing out. Especially in the early stages following limb loss, the residual limb may shrink and require different sockets and liners.
Limb size may also fluctuate because of other factors that are beyond control. One such instance of this is people who suffer from diabetes. You may also find that lifestyle changes may require a different prosthesis. For example, if you decide to increase your activity level and live a more active lifestyle, you may need to look at replacing your prosthesis.
At the end of the day, the expert clinicians at HOPE KC can help you with any changes that you may experience after receiving a prosthesis. Whether it’s volume fluctuations, repairs, and maintenance, or a lifestyle change, we can offer guidance and help you make the necessary adjustments.
Find the best custom prosthesis for you with HOPE KC
When you work with Horizon Orthotic & Prosthetic Experience in Kansas City, you’re working with a highly skilled clinical staff who values relationships and treats you like family. We are an award-winning, local prosthetic and orthotic company that strives to give our patients HOPE every day.
We have highly-trained clinical staff who strives to make a difference in the lives of others. When you come into one of our state-of-the-art facilities, we will be able to evaluate you and custom design the best prosthesis to fit your limb, life, and goals. For your convenience, we have six locations spanning across the Kansas City metro area, as well as Central Kansas and Central Missouri areas.
For more information about custom prosthetics in Kansas City, contact us today.