Attending the Prosthetic Service - What to expect
The prosthetic service is provided by Steeper in partnership with the NHS. There is access to both NHS specialists in this field and related medicine together with the prosthetic specialists employed by the service provider.
Your First Visit
At your first appointment you will generally be seen by a specialist team of clinical staff that may include a prosthetist, Physiotherapist, Doctor, Nurse and OT, other health professionals or students may also be present. The team will discuss your goals and devise a care plan with you to help you meet your goals.
Many factors affect whether a prosthesis will enhance your independence. These include heart and chest problems, arthritis and neurological problems such as strokes. If you are going to be fitted with an artificial limb, the prosthetist will then measure your residual limb together with other related measures and often, will take a plaster cast at this stage. This may be delayed if there is still excessive swelling or unhealed areas present or if a specific interface component is required.
There are different types of prostheses as these are custom build to suit your needs so yours may not be exactly the same as those you see other people using.
Fitting and Delivery of your Prosthesis
The next appointment will generally be for the fitting of your prosthesis. It usually takes between one to two weeks between appointments although this may vary depending on components selected for the limb and any interim stages required.
You will try on the limb and take some steps using the parallel bars for support to check comfort and function. The local amputee physiotherapist may be involved at this stage. Once all is satisfactory, the limb is returned to the workshop for the cosmetic finish to be added. At the trial stage, only the structural components of the limb can be seen so it can look quite strange before it has the top cover added which makes it look more like your other limb. At this stage, after your amputation, your residual limb is likely to still be swollen so the prosthesis will also tend to be larger than your remaining limb.
You may take your prosthesis home with you but we advise you not to use it until you attend your next physiotherapy session, this is so that we can make sure you learn to walk again in a safe environment and don’t develop any bad habits that can be hard to eradicate once learned.
A supply of stump socks will also be provided, which you launder at home. A fresh sock should be used daily, or more frequently, depending on any unhealed wound areas.
During the first year following delivery of your prosthesis, you will be given regular appointments to review your progress.
Your residual limb will commonly change shape and size during this time so the socket fit will alter. Adjustments to your prosthesis may then be required. If you develop any other problems and wish to be seen in between these dates, you should telephone your department to request an additional appointment. Extra socks, cosmetic coverings and other minor items can be posted to you as required.