The Prosthetic Process
Prosthetics is so much more than receiving an artificial limb. It’s a process that begins well before being measured for a prosthesis and lasts throughout a patient’s life. Following is an overview of some of the key steps in the process. Naturally, every patient is unique and will follow a slightly different path. At Burton Prosthetics, we guide you through all phases of your care and take pride in helping you become whole again.
Our process begins with a thorough evaluation of your specific condition and a review of your medical health, history and lifestyle. Residual limb strength, range of motion and overall condition will be reviewed. We will discuss an expected time frame to provide our services along with the componentry best suited to your needs and desires. If appropriate, your residual limb may be molded and/or measured for the socket, which will eventually be fit to your residual limb. The process will evolve from this point forward through fitting, problem solving and adjustments to optimize comfort and function and finally the delivery of a completed prosthesis.
As its name suggests, the purpose of a preparatory prosthesis is to help a new amputee transition to a new life of using an artificial limb. It allows you to learn a new way of adapting to your residual limb. It also helps the clinical team determine your potential and the most appropriate components for the definitive prosthesis. Patients normally wear the preparatory prosthesis for three to six months. This is a discovery phase, which gives us the opportunity to experiment with different socket designs, suspension systems, and knee or foot combinations. In the case of upper extremity prosthesis we will also consider the control systems and the terminal devices.
Once your limb size has stabilized and you have developed the skills necessary to effectively use the prosthesis, you will be ready to receive your permanent or “definitive” prosthesis. Burton Prosthetics will custom design and fabricate your definitive prosthesis using componentry appropriate for your unique needs. Your practitioner works closely with you and does all of the fabrication in house. This allows us to bring you a quality prosthetic device quickly, and ensures the efforts of the discovery phase are incorporated into your prosthesis. Further, you can be confident that if your prosthesis needs adjustments of any kind, we are just a phone call away.
Keep in mind the term “definitive” prosthesis can be misleading. Depending on daily use and activity level, a prosthetic arm or leg usually lasts from three to five years. With children, the time frame is even shorter due to their continuous physical growth.
Fitting & Alignment
Despite remarkable developments in componentry in recent years, it is the fitting and alignment of a lower limb prosthesis that ultimately determines how well an amputee will walk. At Burton Prosthetics we go to great lengths to ensure that your prosthesis is properly fit and biomechanically aligned to your individual gait and balance. Typically, fitting and alignment is completed is several appointments before the cosmetic finish is applied to the limb.
Training & Rehabilitation
This is an exciting time as you begin learning how to wear, walk and function with your new prosthesis. Burton Prosthetics provides the training you need to learn to use your prosthesis at no charge. We will also coordinate your rehabilitation with physical therapists. Though we do not have physical therapists on staff, we have established relationships with all area physical therapists. We believe it is in the patient’s best interest to have an unbiased opinion and objective advice from an independent physical therapist.
Once you are on your way, we maintain a schedule of follow-up care to check on your progress. New amputees usually return to their prosthetist often for adjustments and to ask questions that arise as their body changes and activity level increases. At Burton Prosthetics, service is very important to us. We strive to keep your prosthesis functioning optimally as well as keeping you informed of changes in technology.
We know there will be many highs and lows through this journey. Many patients find it takes a year and a half to become fully proficient and confident using a new prosthesis. We pledge to be with you every step of the way, giving you the support and confidence to achieve your goals. The trusted relationships we develop with our patients often become life long.