What to Expect When Getting Fitted For a Prosthesis

Even if an amputation causes the loss of your body parts, life doesn’t end there. A prothesis exists as a replacement for a lost body part. With a prosthesis set for you to use, a new life awaits.

The prosthesis fitting and use can be a tricky period. Many amputees are eager to start the fitting process and use their new prosthesis immediately. However, the fitting process has two phases: the temporary or preparatory prosthesis and the final or definitive prosthesis. Along with these phases are multiple considerations that you should keep in mind.

To keep you guided, here’s what to expect about fitting and using your prosthesis.

​Temporary or Preparatory Prosthesis

The fitting for the new amputee starts when: (1) Swelling in the residual limb is under control, and (2) the suture line has healed, which typically takes four to six weeks after surgery.

Here’s what to expect:

  • Your physician will prescribe a prosthesis once the limb has healed. Your prosthetist and insurance company (or other payers) will determine the time for a new prosthesis.
  • Your prosthetist will examine and measure your residual limb. Along with this is setting your rehabilitation goals and the expectations you have for everyday life as a prosthetic user. Your prosthesis will take into consideration your lifestyle and will create a prosthesis that is fitting for your lifestyle and daily needs.
  • The structure of prosthesis for upper or lower extremity includes: a socket that fits over the residual limb, a strap or harness to aid in suspension, a sleeve or liner that helps you put on the socket, and various components including pylons, rotators, manual and electronic joints (hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, elbow, wrist), and a foot, hand or other terminal device.
  • The socket is the most critical element in prosthetic design. It is where the prosthesis and the body connect. How the socket fits will affect how well you rehabilitate and recover.

Fitting the Temporary Socket

The next step in the process is creating a temporary socket. This applies to whether your prosthetist chooses traditional casting or scanning with Insignia. New amputees are expected to wear the temporary prosthesis for a few months as the residual limb continues to reduce in size and mature. On the other hand, people who have worn a prosthesis have a much shorter stage in the fitting process (typically for a few days to a few weeks).

Here’s what to expect:

  • Your prosthetist will create test sockets to see how your limbs contact with them.
  • Other components comprising your prosthesis will be added to the temporary socket soon after. They’ll be added as you can start to stand and walk or use your arm and hand. The temporary prosthesis does not usually have a cosmetic covering since adjustments have to be made continually as the residual limb decreases in size.
  • Part of your recovery and rehabilitation process is engaging in physical therapy during and after the fitting process. Some people will also need to have occupational therapy. Your physical and occupational therapists will design rehabilitation plans that suit your lifestyle goals.

Final or Definitive Prosthesis

The last part of the process is the final or definitive prosthesis. Your prosthetist will decide when it’s time to cast the final or definitive prosthesis. New amputees are more likely to use the final prosthesis several months after surgery. The prosthetist needs to make sure that the size and shape of the residual limb have finally stabilized. Experienced prosthetic users will have their casting for the definitive prosthesis occur quickly.

Here’s what to expect:

  • Your clinician will create a final custom socket and attach all other components of the prosthesis to it. Also, there will be options for a cosmetic covering. Prosthesis creation and fitting will require several visits and can take a few weeks to complete.
  • The terms “final” or “definitive” prosthesis are not necessarily absolute. This means that no prosthetic leg or arm is going to last forever. A prosthesis can last anywhere from two to five years, depending on daily usage and activity level. In some cases, this mechanical device needs to be repaired. At times, only single components ought to be replaced rather than creating an entirely new prosthesis.

We hope we have shed some light on what to expect about using your prosthesis, whether it’s the temporary one or the final product. When you know what to expect, the entire process will be much easier than you’d expect.

Learn more about our prosthesis solutions on our product page. Feel free to get in touch with us today to see how we can help!