Prosthetic Care

What is removable rigid dressing?
A removable rigid dressing is a stiff and inflexible protective covering that can be taken off by the patient. If your doctor deems it necessary and prescribes one, your OCS prosthetist will apply it to the residual limb immediately after amputation for additional protection.

Why is there so much swelling?
Swelling is normal after any surgery and is particularly common after amputation due to decreased muscle activity.

How do I reduce the swelling?
There are multiple ways to decrease inflammation. Shrinkers are elastic socks specifically used to reduce swelling and shape the limb for prosthesis wear. Wrapping the limb in a figure eight fashion, using an ace bandage is also effective. Both fluid loss and muscle inactivity will cause the residual limb to continue to decrease until the limb is mature so it is very important to follow your doctor and OCS prosthetist’s directives in regards to wrapping your limb for protection.

How should I take care of my residual limb after surgery?
The dressing used after surgery should be removed and a shrinker worn in its place. Your shrinker should be removed and reapplied several times a day, to monitor limb condition and reduce swelling.

What is Phantom Sensation (or Pain)?
Phantom sensation is the feeling, or sensation, that comes from the amputated limb. Not all amputees experience this but those who do, can also feel pain or even tingling and itching. Once you start using your prosthesis, these sensations can decrease. If any episode of sharp, squeezing, or burning pain occurs, inform your doctor and OCS prosthetist.

How soon after surgery will I get my prosthesis?
Timing varies from patient to patient. In all cases, your residual limb must be completely healed, with no tenderness and minimal swelling. If no complications exist, your first fitting will be 4-6 weeks after amputation. Those who suffer from poor circulation may have an additional 2-3 weeks before being fitted for their artificial limb.

How do I prepare my body for wearing my prosthesis?
Muscle strengthening and exercising for flexibility and stamina are important for your overall physical condition. Isometric exercise, which involves tightening and relaxing the muscles, helps you maintain the muscle tone of your residual limb. Desensitizing the limb is also an important step in preparing for your prosthesis. Massaging, patting, rubbing, even lightly slapping your residual limb, help in preventing contractures (muscle tightening) from occurring.

What prosthesis is best for me?
OCS prosthetists make sure that every device is custom fitted for the patient. Your overall health, lifestyle, commitment to exercise, and financial situation all play a roll in determining what prosthetic is best for you. Your OSC specialist will discuss your options with you, aiming to give you the highest level of function and independence possible.

How is a prosthesis made?
Your OCS prosthetist begins by taking a series of measurements and a cast of your residual limb. From the cast, a mold is made and used to design a custom socket. Your residual limb fits snugly in the socket which is attached to the other components that make up your prosthesis.

How do I learn to use my prosthesis?
During the initial fittings, your OSC prosthetist will guide you through the basic principles of using your prosthesis, and will fine-tune the fit and alignment as needed. If you are a patient with an upper extremity prosthesis, you will work with an occupational therapist who will help you perform your normal daily activities such as eating and brushing your teeth. If you have had a lower extremity amputation, you will be referred to a physical therapist for more intensive training.

How much will my prosthesis cost?
Cost varies from patient to patient. A prosthesis is custom-designed to meet your specific needs using advanced materials and components. Before any device is ordered, cost and insurance/Medicaid coverage will be discussed.

How long will my first prosthesis last?
First, or temporary, prosthetics are usually worn between 3-6 months. During this time, your residual limb will continue to shrink and will become less sensitive. Your OCS prosthetist will make numerous adjustments and prosthetic socks may be added to help the socket fit properly as your limb shrinks. You will learn to walk and balance on your new prosthesis, which will help the residual limb shrink more quickly.

When will I be ready for a definitive prosthesis?
As soon as your residual limb is healed and the size and shape have stabilized, you are ready for a more complex definitive prosthesis. Your definitive prosthesis can last for many years, especially if properly maintained by you and checked by your OCS prosthetist.

Can I drive with my prosthesis?
Driving with a prosthesis on the driving foot is not recommended. These devices make it more difficult to “feel” the pedals and may restrict range of motion at the ankle. Your OCS prosthetist will help you find a local vendor who can perform necessary automobile modifications so you can continue to drive safely.

How much does a prosthesis weigh?
A “Below the Knee” prosthesis weights about 3.5-4lbs and an “Above the Knee” prosthesis weighs about 7-9.5lbs.

What do I do if I need to go through airport security?
Please see these tips from the TSA:

  • Inform the TSA officer if you have a prosthetic, cast, brace or support appliance and require assistance with the screening process.
  • You may provide the officer with the TSA notification card or other medical documentation to describe your condition.
  • Passengers with prostheses can be screened using imaging technology, metal detector, or a pat-down.
  • A prosthetic, cast, brace or support appliance may be subject to additional screening. You may be asked to lift or raise your clothing to screen the prosthetic.
  • Sensitive areas should not be exposed during the screening process.
  • You may voluntarily remove your prosthetic, cast, brace or support appliance and have it screened by the X-ray.

Remember to check the TSA website for up-to-date information.