Postoperative, and after recovery, your pre-prosthetic training will begin. During this phase, the focus will be on preparing your residual limb for a prosthesis. This will include providing education on skin care, muscle strength, pain reduction and management, as well as limb shaping as residual limbs often experience swelling. To correct this, a shrinker or compression sock can be used. The rehabilitation team will work with you to build muscle strength and avoid muscle tightening, also known as contractures. Depending on your care plan, this rehabilitation may take place in a skilled nursing facility, rehab center, or from the comfort of your home.
Pre-prosthetic training will play an important role in ensuring the residual limb and scar are desensitized prior to prosthetic placement. Techniques to desensitize the residual limb can include rubbing the end of the limb in circular motions, massaging, and tapping. During this time, the limb should periodically be evaluated by a prosthetist to check for readiness.
After the wound has healed and the residual limb is correctly shaped, you will meet with a clinician who will discuss a plan of action. This plan will be based on your profession, hobbies, and goals. The information you provide will help the clinician determine what type of prosthetic will best suit your needs. It is important that you communicate with your clinician at this meeting. Many patients discover prosthetics online that they feel would suit their needs best, however, the clinician will be able to offer client specific information on prosthetics. The most expensive product is not always the best for your situation and our clinicians will ensure you get a prosthetic that provides you the range of motion you need to live the life you want. After speaking with a clinician it's a good idea to meet or talk with others who have prosthetics that you are looking into. This is a great opportunity to hear about the firsthand pros and cons of the products you are looking to.
Now that you have had the chance to speak with several different people, it is time to select a product and the clinician will begin to build a socket. This process can be lengthy as the socket will undergo several changes to ensure it is a perfect fit. It is important to stay patient through this phase and make sure the socket fits so you will have the greatest outcome with your prosthetic. After you have the prosthetic fitted, you may experience some shrinking of the residual limb which will require further alterations to keep the fit perfect for your body.
Once your prosthetic is ready to be fit to the socket, you will be provided a wearing schedule. This schedule will help you become accustomed to your prosthesis and prevent any discomfort from initial overuse. Physical, or occupational, therapy will continue until you feel comfortable to use the device on your own. Soon, you will find using the prosthesis to be second nature.
It will be important that, in the first year, you return to your clinician to ensure the prosthesis is fitting correctly. In this time you may experience some grief over your lost limb. This is normal and many find relief in talking to others who have experienced similar grief. Try to stay connected with those who have gone through what you have and consider being a mentor to someone who is newly experiencing the pain you’ve gone through. This can be a way to recognize how far you’ve come and help others push through their struggle. This journey can be challenging, and at times, frustrating but know that your hard work will pay off and we will be there to help you every step of the way. You will soon return to the life you love with the same functionality you once had.