(205) 588 8125
I’m due for an amputation in the near future, is it too soon to contact you?
Absolutely not! Contacting us as soon as you know you will be having an amputation will set your mind at ease by becoming familiar with the processes, components and progression towards your first steps with your prosthetic limb. We want the process to be as comfortable and worry-free as possible.
How soon after surgery am I ready to be fit?
Your doctor will determine when you are ready to be fit. Our evaluations and consultations are always free of charge and we will consult with your physician regarding your amputation, any medical precautions, and issues that may affect your options or expected outcome. The surgery needs to be well healed and typically a person will receive their prosthesis from 2-3 weeks post surgery. Persons who have other medical complications or problems healing may take longer.
How long will it take for my prosthesis to be fabricated?
We strive to fit our clients as soon as possible. Preparatory limbs typically take 1-2 days to deliver. Permanent limbs fabrication takes longer due to test sockets.
Will my insurance pay for these services?
Generally, insurance carriers do pay for most prosthetic services. Our insurance billers are highly knowledgeable and have extensive experience working in the health insurance industry. We are proactive in getting prior approval so that you know what to expect. We work with you to meet your needs.
Do I need physical therapy after I get my prosthesis?
Physical therapy is recommended for new amputees. It is best to correct any walking pattern habits from the beginning so they don’t become bad habits. We provide video gait evaluation for all of our clients. Our Gait lab and training facility will help you learn to use your prosthesis to the fullest.
Will I be able to do things I did before my amputation?
Most amputees can return to a style of life similar, if not identical, to their pre-amputation life style. This may take awhile but within a year, most amputees are back to their old life.
How do I care for my prosthesis?
We provide complete instruction on how to care for your prosthesis upon delivery. We can also do in-house training for those requiring these services.
Are there any support groups I can contact?
Yes, and we recommend you seriously consider attending a few sessions to help with your transitioning period. Please visit our "Support Group" page for more information.
What questions should I ask my prosthetist?
Do I sleep with my prosthesis on?
No, treat the prosthesis like a pair of shoes, you definitely don't sleep with them on.
Can I shower with my prosthesis?
There are shower prostheses but safety is always the biggest issue. Most amputees may use their device to help get situated on a shower seat or get into the tub but usually take it off once situated. Most standard prosthetic devices do have components that will rust or corrode so it is not advised to expose them to water long term. It may also void any warranty that comes with the components used. Most prosthetic devices are water resistant to low levels like walking in the rain but not water proof like swimming unless designed for that purpose.
Can I drive?
Right limb amputees should have their automobile modified. Certified dealers can add hand controls and other devices to make the experience easier.
How long do I have to wear my shrinker?
This really depends on the individual but on average most amputees find themselves needing to wear the shrinker consistently all day and night unless physician says otherwise (not in the shower of course and always monitoring there skin frequently checking for any possible breakdowns). If patient is wearing the prosthetic device then they should not be wearing the shrinker until they take off prosthesis. Most amputees find themselves using the shrinker for the first year or more post amputation. The residual limb is still undergoing lots of changes and the shrinker aids in keeping the residual limb consistent in size cutting down on the fluctuations the limb undergoes in a day to day period. This makes the prosthetic fitting a more consistent process. Some amputees like to continue wearing the shrinker after the limb has stabilized.
How long will do I stay in my Preparatory device?
On average 3 to 6 months or when you reach a 10 to 12 ply fit. The preparatory is used to shape the residual limb as well as strengthen the limb. Usually during this process the limb changes and begins to shrink down in size. The first definitive device is usually a glorified preparatory due to the limb still changing. Most changes occur and level off after the 1-1/2 years.
Can I drive a car with my lower limb prosthesis?
It is highly recommended that if you are dealing with a right limb amputation that you have your automobile modified. Most lower limb amputees add a second gas pedal on the opposite side of the brake by a certified dealer. It is a easy transition and made so you can flip either gas pedal out of the way so others can drive your car. Usually it is done by adding a bracket from the existing gas pedal to the new one added. If you are a bilateral hand controls may be added. Driving a clutch is a tricky and tough thing to do and usually not recommended for legal purposes.
How long does it take to get the prosthesis after the casting?
It normally takes about two weeks from the time of casting to delivery of your new prosthesis. There will be at least one fitting, often there are two, prior to final delivery. This assures us that we have done everything possible to adapt to your special needs and the shape of your residual limb. We cannot emphasis enough the advantage of our in-house fabrication. We do not send your cast out to a separate company to do a “central fabrication” of your limb. We design and fabricate all of our prostheses. They are custom made in the true sense of the word. Because we are intricately involved in the fabrication of your prosthesis, we can make the modifications and adjustments that are required in the proper fit of every prosthesis. The modifications and adjustments are taken care of in house in our modern facility.
Below Knee Sock Ply and Fitting Instructions
Below knee socks or stump socks should always be clean and dry to prevent blisters and fungal or bacterial infections. Amputees should have a sufficient supply of socks so that there are always several clean, dry socks available for changing. Put stump socks on one at a time. Put them on slowly and carefully being sure to eliminate wrinkles which can cause the formation of blisters. Change your stump socks at least once daily. Always carry an extra should you need to adjust your fit whenever you are away fro home. If you wear a soft liner, slide it on over your socks and then apply the socket. Check sock fit every time you put on your prosthesis. Your limb may have changed due to diet, the time of day, or position of your residual prior to putting the prosthesis on again. You should feel firm pressure all over. If you feel excessive pressure on the bottom or the bottom edge of your knee cap, it may also feel loose or if the prosthesis feels short, adjust sock fit by adding a sock. Start by adding a 1 ply sock and continue to add as needed. If you feel excessive pressure along the shaft of the shin bone or if the prosthesis feels too tight or feels too long, adjust fit by removing a sock, 1 ply at a time, until it feels comfortable. For our Above Knee patients, the same rules apply with the exception that you may feel excessive pressure on the bottom of your limb or in the groin area. It may feel loose or too short. Adjust sock fit by adding a sock. If our AK patients feel that the prosthesis is too tight or feels too long then adjust sock fit by removing a sock – one ply at a time until comfortable.
What do I do at bedtime?
You should remove your prosthesis once you have safely completed your nighttime routine. You should not sleep with your prosthesis.
How about taking a shower – do I use my prosthesis?
Many amputees use their prosthesis to get themselves properly and safely situated in the tub or shower and then it is removed. Some of the components of a prosthesis will rust when exposed to water for a length of time. You could say that they are water resistant. For example, if you are caught in a rain shower and take proper drying procedures once back in a dry situation, your prosthesis will not be damaged. They are not water proof ; the normal prosthesis is not designed for swimming.
How should I take care of my gel liner?
Wash the gel part of the liner daily with a soap that doesn't contain lye, perfume or antibacterial properties. (also clean residual limb with the same soap used on the gel liner). Rotate gel liners daily – skin irritation can be caused by improper cleaning of liner or residual limb.
What is the best way to put on my gel liner?
If your liner is the locking type, make sure the locking pin on the liner is totally visible once sock or socks have been applied. Make sure your sock has a hole in the bottom for the locking pin. Once the liner has been applied, make sure the pin is straight and the front of the liner faces up so you can read it. If not, reapply liner properly. Do not use a sheath, sock, powder or any lubricant between your skin and liner unless specified by your prosthetist. Make sure locking device has secured gel liner in prosthesis before walking.
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 post-operative complications might be ready to use a temporary prosthesis 4 or 5 weeks after surgery.
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 or orthotist; a physical therapist is usually part of the rehabilitation team of a new amputee. Many other specialists might be included depending on your needs: an occupational therapist, rehabilitation counselor, wound care specialist, speech therapist and social worker are just a few of the specialists who might be involved.
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 when you are fitted for your limb. Most foot components work properly with shoes of only one heel height, though there are some prosthetic feet that provide adjustment so that shoes of different heel heights can be worn. Athletic type shoes are often recommended – they are light in weight and usually have soles that prevent slipping.
How will my prosthesis stay on?
There are many different suspension methods – you should discuss the best for your needs with your prosthetist. Some limbs are suspended using suction, sometimes 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 that you can become accustomed to your socket without experiencing discomfort. If your prosthesis hurts, call your prosthetist.
Can I continue to enjoy sports with my prosthesis?
Most people can resume their sports activities using their prosthesis. Some sports such as swimming and sprinting require specially designed limbs – 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, though of course this depends on how hard 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.
How often should I see my prosthetist or orthotist after my device is delivered?
You should return to Hanger at least twice a year to be sure that it retains optimum fit and that it remains safe and functional. Some components have specific maintenance requirements which will be discussed at the time of delivery.
Should my artificial arm have a hand or a hook?
Each has advantages: a hook is durable and better suited to handling a variety of objects, and the hand is preferred by those who want a more cosmetic limb. These terminal devices are interchangeable and some amputees choose to use both.
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 the 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, discontinue using the device and call your Hanger practitioner.
What is the difference between a body-powered and a myoelectric arm?
There are two options for operating the terminal device and/or elbow components of a prosthetic arm. Body powered prostheses use a custom-designed harness and stainless steel cable to operate the terminal device and elbow. A myoelectric prosthesis has electrodes built into the limb which use the tiny electrical signals from the muscles to signal small battery operated motors which in turn move the terminal device and/or elbow – no cables or harness are necessary. Each system has advantages, and some amputees have both a body-powered and a myoelectric limb.
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 adjusted so that 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.