Frequently Asked Questions

When faced with amputation, you may have more questions than answers. We are here to help.

General Questions

What is the rehabilitation team?

This is the entire team of specialists that will assist in your rehabilitation. At minimum it would consist of your physician and prosthetist. Frequently, a physical therapist is also usually part of the rehabilitation team of a new amputee. However, many other specialists might be included depending on your needs. These may include: an occupational therapist, rehabilitation counselor, wound care specialist, or social worker.

How often should I see my prosthetist after my device is delivered?

You should return to Hanger Clinic at least twice a year to be sure your device retains optimum fit and remains safe and functional. Some components have specific maintenance requirements, which will be discussed at the time of delivery.

How should I wash my prosthetic socks?

Wool socks are best if they are washed by hand and air dried. They can be machine washed, but they will remain softer and last longer if hand washed. Never put wool socks in the dryer. Nylon and cotton socks can be machine washed.

My skin is red when I take off my device. Is that OK?

This is most likely normal. Check your skin again 20 minutes or so after removing your device. If the redness is the result of normal pressures, it will have gone away in this amount of time. If your skin is still red after 20 minutes, or the area hurts, stop using the device and call your prosthetist.

My device needs an adjustment. Do I need to get a prescription from my physician?

Probably not. Adjustments that do not change the fundamental nature of the device do not require a prescription.

Can I take a shower with my prosthesis on?

Not unless it was designed specifically for swimming or bathing.

My prosthesis now needs more socks than it did at first in order to fit correctly. Can it be adjuso I don’t have to wear so many?

Small adjustments to the socket to reduce the number of socks needed are usually successful at first but become less successful as shrinkage continues. Your prosthetist must estimate where and how much your residual limb has shrunk and then determine a course of action.

Can I continue to enjoy sports with my prosthesis?

Most people can resume sports activities using their prosthesis. Some sports, such as swimming and sprinting, require specially-designed limbs, which is why it’s important to discuss your specific athletic needs with your prosthetist.

How long should my prosthesis last?

The components are designed to last from 2 to 4 years, but it depends on how aggressively they are used. The socket is designed to last for 2 to 4 years also, though most sockets are replaced because of changes in the residual limb rather than because of wear and tear.

Lower Limb Questions

How soon after my amputation will I be able to walk?

That depends on how quickly you heal. A healthy person with good circulation and no postoperative complications might be ready to use a temporary prosthesis 3 or 5 weeks after surgery.

When will I be ready to receive my definitive prosthesis?

The permanent prosthesis is prescribed when your limb volume has begun to stabilize and you have progressed in your gait training. This might occur from three to six months after you receive your temporary prosthesis.

I can still feel my toes even though my leg has been amputated. Is this normal?

Yes, it is. This is called phantom sensation, and most amputees experience it. If it is uncomfortable, speak to your physician about treatment options.

What kind of shoes can I wear with my prosthesis?

Almost any shoe can be used with your prosthesis. Be sure to bring the shoes you wear most often to your fitting appointment. Most foot components work properly with shoes of only one heel height. However, there are some prosthetic feet that adjust at the ankle, allowing you to wear shoes with varying heel heights. Athletic shoes are often recommended since they are lightweight and usually have soles that prevent slipping.

How will my prosthesis stay on?

There are many different suspension methods. You should discuss with your prosthetist the best option based on your needs. Some limbs are suspended using suction, and sometimes they are assisted by a suspension sleeve. Suspension can be obtained from a pin mechanism attached to a roll-on liner, and some prostheses are attached using straps or extensions of the socket.

Will it hurt to walk with my prosthesis?

No. Your prosthetist will suggest a break-in schedule, so you can become accustomed to your socket without experiencing discomfort. If your prosthesis hurts, call your prosthetist.

Upper Limb Questions

Should my prosthetic arm have a hand or a hook?

Each has advantages. A hook is durable and better suited to handling a variety of objects. However, a hand is preferred by those who want a more cosmetic limb. Hands and hooks are interchangeable on most prosthetic arms, and some amputees choose to use both.

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