The following is a step-by-step guideline of what you can expect during the prosthetic fitting process, from the very first evaluation appointment to the final delivery and follow-up care. Please let us know if you have questions or concerns about any of it!
When your doctor has determined that you are ready for prosthetic fitting, you will be evaluated by one of our prosthetists. At this time you will be asked to provide information about your lifestyle, vocation (what you do for a living), hobbies/activities, future plans and what your prosthetic goals and expectations are. This will assist us in determining what prosthetic options fit your personal needs. If you have used a prosthesis in the past, please bring it to your evaluation appointment.
Your prosthetist will do a thorough evaluation of your residual limb’s strength, range of motion and flexibility. Try to wear (or bring) clothing that allows access to your limb, such as shorts, a skirt, short-sleeved top or sleeveless top. If needed, we can provide you with disposable paper shorts or another garment to wear for this evaluation. The overall condition of your residual limb will be assessed, and we will ask questions about your general health.
At the conclusion of our evaluation, our recommendation for the type of prosthesis that would best serve your goals, expectations and abilities will be submitted to your doctor. We will also submit this information to your insurance carrier for financial verification at this time. Some insurance carriers may take several weeks to review your case and reach a final decision. Before proceeding with the fitting of your prosthesis you will have the opportunity to meet with our financial coordinator to review and approve our recommendations.
Measurement / Impression-taking (casting)
At your next visit, your prosthetist will take measurements of your residual limb and sound limb. They will also take a cast impression of your residual limb. This process can be messy, so you might want to wear a pair of baggy old shorts (or sleeveless t-shirt if an arm amputee) and bring a change of clothing (including undergarments) to this appointment! If necessary, we will provide you with disposable paper shorts or another garment to wear for casting. The plaster bandage will be wrapped around your limb and allowed to harden. Once the cast is set, the prosthetist will remove the cast from your limb and use it as a model to fabricate (build) your prosthesis. It will normally take one to two weeks before you return for the first fitting appointment.
Fitting the Prosthetic Socket
It may take several fittings before a well-fitting, well-functioning prosthetic limb is achieved. Your prosthetist will normally focus on the fit of the socket first. You will be fit with a clear plastic test socket so we can see exactly how well the socket fits and see where modifications may be needed. You will be asked for your feedback regarding comfort and fit.
Next, your socket will be attached to the other prosthetic components ( (foot, knee, hand, etc.). If you are being fit with a lower limb prosthesis, you should bring the pair of shoes that you plan to wear most often. You’ll be asked to stand and perhaps even take a few steps with the prosthesis, using the parallel bars and other help as needed. As you walk, your prosthetist will make small adjustments to the angle of the foot, “aligning” the prosthesis to your gait, which is necessary for your safety and allows you to walk with the best quality. If you are being fit with an upper limb prosthesis, your prosthetist will adjust the components to find a balance between the function of the prosthesis and the cosmetic appearance.
After fitting is complete, the device will be kept for final fabrication. Normally, delivery of the finished prosthesis will be scheduled approximately two weeks after the final fitting.
Delivery of Your Finished Prosthesis
Upon receiving your finished prosthesis, your prosthetist will make sure that you know how to use the prosthesis and give you information about the care and maintenance required for your device. You will also be given guidelines for an initial wearing schedule to give your body some time to adapt to wearing the prosthesis. It’s important to schedule your first physical or occupational therapy appointment as soon as possible. Your prosthetist may even deliver your finished prosthesis directly to your physical or occupational therapist if requested.
It is very important that you follow the safety guidelines set by your prosthetist and physical therapist. If you notice any lasting redness on your skin or experience discomfort, stop wearing the prosthesis and contact your prosthetist for an appointment to re-evaluate the fit and function of your device.
Follow-up and Repairs
Once your prosthesis is finished, you will return occasionally for adjustments and minor repairs. Contact your prosthetist if your prosthesis is not fitting correctly or if parts/components are not functioning properly. You will be advised if any of your prosthetic components required special maintenance.