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What to Expect When Getting Your First Prosthesis

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Most amputees are ready for their first prosthesis about six to eight weeks after surgery, after their residual limb has healed properly. Fabricating a prosthesis generally takes three to four weeks. In brief, here is what you can expect over the course of several appointments.

  • A review of your overall health and medical history.
  • Questions about your rehabilitation goals and expectations, such as returning to work, engaging in athletic or recreational activities, living/caregiver arrangements, and more.
  • Assessment of your muscle strengths and weaknesses as well as range of motion/flexibility of the involved and surrounding joints, not only of your residual limb, but your sound limb as well.
  • Measurements of your residual limb and your sound limb.
  • Creation of a plaster mold of your residual limb to create a test socket to see how the socket fits against the skin, compresses muscle tissue and allows room for any bony protrusions.
  • After modifications, a second plaster mold and a second test socket are made.
  • The second test socket will include use of prosthetic components (knees, feet, hands, elbows – depending on your limb loss).
  • Assessment of your mobility or your function with the prosthesis, and further adjustments to maximize your comfort and fit.
  • Fabrication of your “permanent” prostheses.
  • Your final customized prosthesis will be fitted to you. You will receive a wearing schedule to give your body time to get used to the prosthesis.
  • Follow-up visits are expected for minor adjustments to ensure you have a comfortable, stable gait, or in the case of an upper-limb prosthesis, comfortable use of your arm, hand, and wrist.
  • Continued visits to your physical therapist are recommended to ensure you get the most from your prosthesis.