As a new amputee, you and your loved ones understandably have a lot of questions. Find answers from the certified prosthetists on your team at Horton’s.
Adjusting to life as a new amputee is never seamless: Even with support from family and the best in prosthesis technology, there are going to be inherent challenges and struggles throughout your recovery. But April is Limb Loss Awareness Month, making this an ideal time to address some commonly asked questions about recovering from an amputation, living as an amputee, and getting prosthetics for amputees in Arkansas.
1. What Is Phantom Limb Pain?
Phantom limb pain refers to a common condition that amputees experience after surgery where you still feel sensations where your limb used to be. This can be an uncomfortable, sometimes painful, sensation in some cases. If you experience phantom limb pain following your amputation, speak with your doctor, as therapeutic treatment options (including prosthetics) may be available.
2. How Do I Pay for a Prosthesis?
If you have health insurance, there’s a good chance that some or all of the costs associated with getting a prosthesis will be covered by your insurance. Be sure to ask your insurance company about your plan’s specific inclusions and exclusions, and keep detailed records. If you don’t have insurance or if some of your related costs go uncovered by insurance, you may be eligible for federal and state assistance programs.
3. How Long After Surgery Can I Get a Prosthesis?
This can vary greatly from one person to the next, as no two amputations are exactly the same. In general, however, most patients should expect to receive a temporary prosthesis within a few weeks after the surgery. Fitting for a custom prosthesis usually begins a few months after surgery, after the surgical site has healed and any swelling or inflammation has subsided. Through physical therapy after surgery, you will slowly be introduced to moving with a prosthesis using short training feet.
4. How Long Will a Prosthesis Last?
These days, prosthetics for amputees are designed to last longer than ever before. That being said, how long you should expect your prosthesis to last can vary depending on a number of factors, such as:
- how well the prosthesis is fitted
- the quality of the materials used
- how well you take care of your prosthesis
- your activity level
With the proper care, most amputees can reasonably expect a prosthesis to last anywhere from two to four years. In many cases, it’s the socket of the limb that tends to wear out the fastest. If this is the case with your prosthesis, then you may be able to have the joint socket replaced rather than getting a new device made. Note that your insurance should cover getting a new prosthetic device every few years, so check how often it is covered under your health care plan.
5. How Often Should I See My Prosthetist?
Even once you receive your prosthesis and start using it freely, it’s important to continue seeing your Arkansas prosthetist regularly. Your medical team will be able to make more specific recommendations as your therapy continues, but most will recommend that you see a licensed certified prosthetist to check the fit of the device and make any needed adjustments at least twice a year. If you are experiencing any problems, these appointments are the best time to have them addressed so your prosthesis is as comfortable and functional as possible.
We know there’s a lot to take in when preparing for an amputation surgery and learning to live with a prosthesis. If you have more questions about prosthetics for amputees, contact Horton’s Orthotics & Prosthetics today at 501-683-8889.
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