Becoming an amputee comes with its set of challenges and it’s an experience that few would plan for. Even with support from family and friends, this can be an incredibly scary and frustrating time. Thankfully, limb loss or limb difference does not have to mean an end to the activities and lifestyle that you enjoy. With a prosthetic limb, you can discover a new normal and get your overall function back.
In this guide, we’ll address some frequently asked questions and share some tips to help you adjust to your new normal after an amputation.
How Can I Prepare Myself for a Prosthesis?
After an amputation, there is a lot that you can do to prepare your residual limb for a prosthesis. Your healthcare team will advise you on the best course of action for your specific case.
Some general tips and advice that apply to most new amputees include;
- Perform the exercises and stretches recommended by your doctor. This will not help you prevent contracture, but also help you build strength in both your residual and intact limb. Remember that you’ll need strength and flexibility in both limbs to use a prosthesis.
- Hygiene in your residual limb is crucial. Ensure that you clean it daily, dry it properly, and wear a clean shrinker sock. These steps will help you avoid an infection in the amputation site.
- Wear the shrinker sock as much as possible to attain the proper shape and size in your residual limb.
- Perform your desensitization routine, i.e., massaging, rubbing, and tapping to minimize painful sensations in the skin of your residual limb.
How Much Does a Prosthesis Cost and How Do I Pay For It?
Artificial limbs can certainly be expensive. The cost of your prosthetic device will depend on the length of the limb that needs to be replaced and the type of prosthesis that is ideal for you. Thankfully, insurance can help you cover part or even the entire cost of the prosthesis. It’s important that you carefully review your insurance plan to determine the specific inclusions and exclusions.
Which Criteria Should I Follow When Choosing a Prosthetist?
Choosing a prosthetist is one of the most crucial decisions for an individual with limb loss or limb difference. Your prosthetic practitioner will ensure that your artificial limb fits perfectly and recommend a regimen to help you adapt to the prosthesis. They’ll even help you feel more comfortable by recommending products that you may need such as prosthetic socks and liners.
When selecting a prosthetic practitioner, keep in mind that this can potentially be a lifelong relationship.
Some factors that you’ll need to consider when making this decision include;
- The location of their offices. You may need to visit a prosthetist several times before you can attain a perfect fit in your artificial limb. Therefore, you ideally want to choose a practitioner whose location is convenient for you.
- The relationship between prosthetic practitioners and their patients is usually ongoing. For this reason, you need to ensure that you trust and are comfortable with your chosen prosthetist.
- Before you settle on a prosthetist, you’ll need to check their credentials. Depending on your state, you may need to confirm that they’re licensed and if their facility is accredited. In addition, the specialist should be professional, experienced, and reliable.
Do I Need to Use a Wheelchair or Crutches?
Many individuals with an amputation or limb difference will require a wheelchair or crutches in addition to their prosthetic limb. Such assistive devices can make activities such as showering, nighttime bathroom trips, and long journeys more convenient.
There may be periods when you’re unwilling or unable to use your artificial limb. Your preferred assistive device will come in handy during such periods.
Where Can New Amputees Find Ongoing Support? The importance of connecting and talking to other individuals who are adjusting to life with a prosthetic device can’t be overstated. Such support groups comprise people with varying levels of amputation and at different stages of recovery. Meeting and interacting with such a group can help inspire confidence in each other.
If you’re interested in connecting with other people in the limb loss and limb difference community, the Amputee Coalition is a great place to get started.
Prosthetic Tips for New AmputeesHere are some simple and practical tips that will help you adjust to life with a prosthesis.
- Follow the Advice Given by Your Prosthetist
Your prosthetist practitioner will give you advice and recommendations to help you adjust and feel more comfortable in a shorter duration. It’s crucial that you carefully follow this advice.
You also need to regularly communicate with your prosthetist before and after your final fitting. If you’re experiencing any issues related to fit, skin, or comfort of your prosthesis inform your practitioner immediately.
- Self-Care Goes a Long Way
After an amputation, you’ll need to focus on taking care of your body to promote a faster recovery. Developing a routine that involves exercising, sleeping enough, and eating nutritious and balanced meals can make all the difference in your overall recovery experience.
Caring for your amputation site through simple practices such as wearing your prosthetic socks regularly and putting on your shrinker socks overnight will also speed up the acclimation period.
- Set Goals for Wearing Your Prosthesis
You can effectively cut down the adjustment period with your prosthesis by setting goals and doing everything possible to follow through. Such goals can include exercising more, walking longer distances, and wearing your prosthesis on a daily basis. While this may be challenging in the beginning, it’ll help you get accustomed to the new artificial limb faster.
- Be Patient With Yourself
Losing a limb is certainly an enormous change, and it’ll take you some time to adjust to your new normal. It’s therefore important that you’re patient with yourself and accept that there’ll be ups and downs in your journey.
Additionally, recognize and accept that every recovery journey is unique. For instance, it may take you longer to adapt to an above-knee prosthesis compared to someone else using a below-knee prosthesis.
Expert Prosthetists at Align ClinicIf you’re looking for a prosthetic device, Align Clinic is here to help. You can book an appointment or visit one of our clinics near you. Our team is dedicated to providing the highest quality care and support that is tailored to your specific needs and goals.