1. ONCE I GET MY PROSTHESIS, HOW SOON CAN I GET BACK TO WHAT I USED TO DO BEFORE THE SURGERY?
It depends on the condition of yourself such as level of amputation, overall health as well as how fast you can get used to the prosthesis. Normally it takes within a few months period. How well will the prosthesis work for you depends on your goal, good and comfortable fitting of the socket as well as proper alignment, follow-up care and lastly determination. First year of wearing the prosthesis may be tough as your residual limb may change in size and shape. A lot of work has to be done to recondition muscles for the prosthesis to work better. Your body need to relearn activities, gait, balance and coordination as it has stopped for a few months after amputation. Do not give up easily as you will continue to improve with time and effort. Strong support network from people around you is also important in helping you along this journey. Follow what you have been told by your prosthetist and do not think of short cut. Soon, you can get back to what you used to do before the surgery.
2. WHAT IF THE PROSTHESIS DOES NOT FIT RIGHT?
It is dangerous when your prosthesis does not fit well as walking with it may cause you to fall. You are required to visit several times at the beginning of getting your prosthesis for best fitting and proper alignment as the shape of your residual limb may change. Talk honestly to your prosthetist if you feel any pain or uncomfortable in anyway. A well fitted socket should not be painful. Discuss the things that you want and need to do for the rest of your life with your prosthetist and ask question when you have doubts.
3. HOW LONG WILL MY PROSTHESIS LAST?
It depends on your activity level, growth, age as well as how much care you put on your prosthesis. Normally, a prosthesis can last for several months to several years. Socket changes in the early stages is the most common problem which will occur as your residual limb may changes in shape and size and cause the socket not to fit well. Increase of activity level may require you to change to a more appropriate prosthesis or its part/components. Prosthesis is like a car, it needs maintenance at least once a year until you are comfortable with it. Usually a prosthesis should last for three years.
4. IS IT DIFFICULT TO LEARN TO USE A PROSTHESIS?
It is never an easy job as you are restoring your limb ability that you used to before surgery. It takes time, effort, commitment, strength, patience and most importantly determination. Support from people around you is also very important in order for you to get used to your prosthesis. Training will be given by your prosthetist and/or sometimes a physical therapist and an occupational therapist as well at the early stage to teach you how to walk correctly on different cadence. Prosthetist will also teach you how to take care of your prosthesis and how to wear and take off your prosthesis. Occupational/physical therapist can guide you in performing daily indoor and outdoor activities; improve your gait for better walking; handling emergencies safely; and try out new things such as sports or recreational activities.
5. WHAT CAN I DO TO PREPARE MYSELF FOR A PROSTHESIS?
Mentally - Work through the feelings and emotions that you are experiencing. Talk to other amputees especially those who are close to your age may help you go through this process. Decide the goal or your life after amputation. Remember that everyone responds differently to loss of limb.
Physically - Take good care of your wound and do bandaging to get a proper shape of residual limb suitable of prosthesis. Exercise to maintain the muscle strength and joint range of motion to be able to move/control the prosthesis. Standing balance is also trained for well adoption after prosthesis fitting.
6. ONCE I HAVE BEEN FITTED FOR A PROSTHESIS AND IT FEELS COMFORTABLE, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Follow-up visits to your prosthetist at least twice a year. Always examine your residual limb and if there are any changes to it or significant change in body weight, visit your prosthetist as soon as possible for adjustment. Remember, small adjustment make a big difference. Prevention is better than cure. Proper fit of the socket and good alignment will make sure the prosthesis works well for you.
7. CAN THE PROSTHESIS BREAK DOWN?
Yes. Therefore it is good to know about the warranties, strength and limitation of your prosthesis. Visit your prosthetist at least twice a year for maintenance to avoid bringing harm to other parts of your body.