I’ve seen people on TV who play sports and do cartwheels with a prosthesis. Will I be able to do that?
What you can do is largely determined by your physical condition and also what you could do before your amputation. Your initial prosthesis, sometimes called a temporary prosthesis, is designed only for basic activities. But be sure to discuss your specific needs for work, recreation or sport activities with your prosthetist so that correct componentry and fit can be achieved. Once you have mastered the initial prosthesis, a more complex “definitive” prosthesis can be created. If you were involved in sports before your amputation, most likely you’ll be able to continue participating in various activities such as golf, basketball, fishing, biking, tennis, swimming, etc. Discuss your goals with your prosthetist, who will offer a prosthetic design to assist you in your endeavors.
How long will it take me to be able to walk on my prosthesis comfortably and return to normal activities?
The rehabilitation process is different for each patient depending on his/her overall health, strength and motivation. A patient can typically “walk” out of our office the first day they are completely fitted with their new limb. Within a couple of weeks of specific prosthetic training, the patient should be able to accomplish most of his/her former daily activities.
Will I be able to return to work?
Many amputees can return to their current jobs without any problems. Others may need to alter their duties within their profession or change jobs completely. It is important to talk with your employer about your desires and capabilities. If job alterations or changes are required, your local Vocational Rehabilitation representative can assist you in returning to the work force.
If your amputation and related health problems have disabled you to an extent that future employment is not possible, you may be eligible for disability-related benefits from the Social Security Administration.
Will I be able to drive a car?
Driving presents minimal problems for most amputees. Depending on the type of amputation, you may require an adaptive device for your car. Leg amputees may choose to install a left foot gas pedal or hand controls. Arm amputees often require automatic transmission, power steering and modification to control the shift lever. You should contact your local Motor Vehicle Administration office in case they require you to take a recertification exam. They can also advise you on your best options for adaptive devices.
Can I get my prosthesis wet, Can I swim with it?
Your prosthesis is not designed to get excessively wet. Water may damage the various components. (Getting caught in the rain for a few minutes will not hurt it.) If you want to use your prosthesis for water activities like swimming, scuba diving or beach fun, discuss this with your prosthetist. You may prefer a specialized prosthesis with water resistant components.
How do I choose the right prosthetist?
Several factors are important in choosing a prosthetist: Certification: Your prosthetist should be credentialed by the ABC or the BOC. This ensures competency in his or her knowledge base and technical skills. The title of Certified Prosthetist-Orthotist – C.P.O. or B.O.C.P., is granted to qualified practitioners by the appropriate licensing boards.
Communication: You should feel comfortable talking with your prosthetist about your needs, concerns and goals. Remember, his or her main job is to assist you in returning to your desired activities with the utmost comfort. If open and honest communication does not exist, then your ultimate prosthetic use will be hindered. Location: If possible, you should choose a certified prosthetist located relatively close to your home, so that periodic evaluations and prosthetic adjustments will not create a hardship for you and your family. The temptation to delay or avoid prosthetic appointments because of long distance travel might lead to unwanted complications.
How long will I have to see my prosthetist?
During the initial fitting and training period, you will probably see your prosthetist several times. Follow-up appointments may then occur every 3 to 6 months to evaluate your progress. After receiving your definitive (or permanent) prosthesis, you might see your prosthetist only as changes or problems occur.
How long will my prosthesis last, Will I ever need another one?
Your prosthesis can last for many years, provided you take proper care of it and have it periodically “checked and serviced” by your prosthetist. Weight gains and losses significantly affect the prosthetic fitting, requiring adjustments or even a new prosthesis. If your prosthesis causes you pain, skin irritation or redness that does not go away, contact your physician or prosthetist. They will recommend adjustments or that a new prosthesis be made for you if the present fitting, function and comfort are not adequate.
How should I deal with people who stare at me or ask me questions about my missing limb?
First of all, remember that most people (including yourself) will look a second or third time at any person who looks “different” for any reason. The additional glance is usually one of curiosity, not of pity or “making fun of.” The same motive exists for people who question you about your amputation or prosthesis; generally, they are just curious. Provide honest answers about why you lost your limb and people will learn from you. You are the expert with something to share! As you offer explanations and answers, both friends and strangers will adapt more quickly to your changes and feel more at ease around you.
Will being an amputee affect my sexual activity?
New amputees are initially very concerned about their body appearance, sometimes fearing that they may not be found attractive or accepted by their spouse or partner. Most say that with the passage of time, they successfully overcame any feeling of being sexually inadequate. Receiving support and reassurance from their partner, as well as from other amputees, will greatly help in this adjustment.
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