Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to several of the most commonly asked questions can be found below – including a special section for specific FAQs about lower extremity prosthetics.

Be sure to also check out our Care Resources to review and download additional information regarding the care and use of your prosthesis or orthosis.

Can’t find the answer you are looking for? Contact Us Today and a P&O Care team member will get back to you!

How often should I see my prosthetist or orthotist?2020-05-07T18:56:28-06:00

Outside of any problems you experience or direction you receive from your physician or therapist, it is recommended that you come in at least every six months for a check-up.

Do I need a prescription if I want to have an adjustment made?2020-05-07T18:57:09-06:00

Not usually. However, if the adjustment involves a significant change or replacement prosthesis or orthosis, you will need a prescription.

Why do I need a prescription?2020-05-07T18:57:48-06:00

Insurance companies require a prescription for all new devices and many replacement items.

How long do appointments take?2020-05-07T18:58:21-06:00

This varies greatly depending on the care you need. More information can be provided to you upon scheduling an appointment.

Can I reschedule my appointment?2020-05-07T18:58:43-06:00

Absolutely. Please call our office as soon as you know you will be unable to make the appointment, and we will be happy to reschedule.

Can members of my family attend appointments with me?2020-05-07T18:59:06-06:00

Yes, of course! We love getting to know you as a person. Coming to understand your family, hobbies, background and life experiences will help us formulate goals and a care plan to meet those goals. Having loved ones support you through this process is always important, and it is always an asset to have a second set of eyes or ears to catch details you may miss or ask questions you may not think of in the moment.

Can you put me in touch with a patient that you have fitted with the same type of device so that I may ask some questions?2020-05-07T18:59:57-06:00

We do have a group of amputee volunteers who serve as Certified Peer Visitors who host events and are more than happy to meet with you one-on-one to discuss what you are going through. Learn more about Amputee Support Programs.

What do I do if my prosthesis is bothering me once I get home?2020-05-07T19:00:19-06:00

Discontinue use immediately if there is any skin breakdown. Call our office immediately and discuss the issue with your practitioner. A resolution may be achieved over the phone or you may need to schedule an appointment for an adjustment.

How do I clean my orthosis or prosthesis?2020-05-07T19:00:44-06:00

Most devices can be cleaned with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. You will be provided with specific cleaning instructions, as well as the opportunity to discuss additional options with your practitioner, at your appointment.

Can I shower with my prosthesis or orthosis?2020-05-07T19:01:28-06:00

Most devices are not designed for full submersion in water. Splashing water or rain should not damage your device. However, there are some devices that are specifically made for water activities. If you do get your device wet, it should be cleaned and dried thoroughly before you reapply it. If it is not dried properly, the components may mildew or corrode. We do not recommend that you shower in your everyday prosthesis. Water can corrode the metal components. Special use solutions (those designed for specific activities such as swimming and bathing) are the best to use for this purpose.

What kind of shoes should I wear with my prosthesis or orthosis?2020-05-07T19:01:54-06:00

Many different styles of shoes can be worn as long as they comfortably fit both the brace and your foot. Oftentimes, tennis shoes are the preferred shoe for initial gait training with a prosthesis. Consult your practitioner if you have problems with your footwear and prosthesis/orthosis.

Can I walk barefoot or wear different shoes with my prosthesis?2020-04-08T16:37:24-06:00

It is not recommended to walk barefoot.

Can I drive with a prosthesis?2020-05-07T19:02:54-06:00

Yes, many people can still drive with a prosthesis. There are several options:

  • Hand controls (easy to use, great for bilateral amputees)
  • Accelerator Switch (often removable)
  • Some patients are able to drive manual vehicles, however automatic vehicles are recommended.
Do I need to remove my prosthesis in order to go to the bathroom?2020-05-07T19:03:15-06:00

No. You will be able to use the restroom without taking off your prosthesis.

Will I be able to walk stairs in my prosthesis?2020-05-07T19:03:35-06:00

Yes, absolutely. Your physical therapist will work with you on how to properly use your prosthesis going up and down stairs.

Can I play sports in my prosthesis or orthosis?2020-05-07T19:03:57-06:00

Yes, we want you to enjoy the lifestyle you strive to have! If there are any limitations or restrictions, your physician, orthotist or prosthetist will advise you.

I currently wear a prosthesis, but I think I need a new one. Can you help?2020-05-07T19:04:18-06:00

In order to begin the process, we will need a physician prescription. We will complete a thorough evaluation of your current prosthesis and determine what can be improved upon.

Can I change the components of my prosthesis (i.e. ankle or foot)?2020-05-07T19:04:40-06:00

These components can only be changed with a prescription for a replacement from your physician.

What should I do if the fit or function of my orthosis or prosthesis changes?2020-05-07T19:05:02-06:00

Contact P&O Care to arrange for an office appointment.

Can I adjust the prosthesis or orthosis myself?2020-05-07T19:05:20-06:00

No, this can lead to personal injury or damage to the device and will void any warranty.

What if my prosthesis or orthosis breaks?2020-05-07T19:05:41-06:00

Stop wearing your device and call P&O Care to arrange for an office appointment.

My skin is red after I remove my prosthesis or orthosis. Is that normal?2020-05-07T19:06:06-06:00

Minimal redness is normal, but if it lasts longer than 30 minutes after removal contact P&O Care.

How long should I wear my brace each day?2020-05-07T19:06:29-06:00

Follow the recommendation of your orthotist, physician or therapist for specific wearing schedules.

How often should I replace a brace?2020-05-07T19:07:06-06:00

They should be replaced upon occurrence of significant wear and tear or physiological changes in your body that make wearing the brace unsafe or painful. Please consult your practitioner. There can be insurance limitations for replacement.

How is my prosthesis made?2020-05-07T19:07:27-06:00

Your prosthesis is made up of many different components selected specifically for you and your lifestyle. Your prosthetist begins by taking a series of measurements and a cast of your residual limb. From the cast, a mold is made and used to design a custom socket. Your residual limb fits snugly in the socket which is attached to the other components that make up your prosthesis. There are also a variety of skin-like coverings that can be used to resemble your other limb as closely as possible.

When should I have a new socket fabricated for my prosthesis?2020-05-07T19:07:46-06:00

Typically, A new socket is needed if your residual limb changes in shape or size or if you are wearing more than 10 ply of socks for a consistent time period.

Is swelling normal in my residual limb?2020-05-07T19:08:10-06:00

It is common to have swelling after surgery; it’s a natural reaction and will continue throughout the healing process.

What can I do to help reduce swelling?2020-05-07T19:08:29-06:00

Using elastic shrinkers decreases the swelling and helps shape the residual limb. Swelling will continue to decrease as the residual limb shrinks from both fluid loss and muscle inactivity.

What happens if my residual limb gets smaller and the prosthesis is too big to fit now?2020-05-07T19:08:50-06:00

Socks designed specifically for prosthetic use can be used to accommodate for limb shrinkage. There are different thicknesses, or “plys” of socks that can be used to make the prosthesis fit snug again. These cotton socks are put on over the gel liner before your leg is placed in the prosthesis to take up the space lost due to shrinkage. It is common for your limb to reduce in size and many amputees use socks to ensure a tight fit.

How long will my first prosthesis last?2020-05-07T19:09:11-06:00

The answer is different for everyone, but the first prosthesis after amputation surgery will typically last approximately 6 months. The most common reason for a replacement is shrinkage of your residual limb resulting in a poorly fitting prosthetic socket. Contact your prosthetist if you are wearing more than 10 ply socks or feel that your prosthesis is no longer fitting properly.

How do I learn to use my prosthesis?2020-05-07T19:09:34-06:00

During the initial fittings, your prosthetist guides you through the basic principles of using your prosthesis, fine-tuning the fit and alignment as needed. For lower limb amputees, more extensive training (walking on different terrains, climbing stairs, getting in and out of a car) is provided by a physical therapist. If you have an upper limb prosthesis, an occupational therapist helps you perform daily living activities such as grooming, eating and handling various objects.

Lower Extremity

Why does my AK socket have to go so far up into my groin?2020-05-07T19:09:56-06:00

The transfemoral socket has to go high into the groin to properly support your pelvis, which is the major bony structure that handles a large amount of your body weight. Since you are no longer able to bear weight on the end of your limb, we need to redistribute the pressures throughout your residual limb. P&O Care uses a flexible material between the socket and your residual limb to ensure that your skin is protected.

Will I need to use a cane or walker with my AK solution?2020-05-07T19:10:20-06:00

When you first begin to learn to walk with your transfemoral prosthesis, you will likely use a cane or a walker. As you increase your balance, strength, confidence, you may not need to use an assistive device. Your physical therapist will help guide you through this process. Most transfemoral amputees begin walking with a walker, then graduate to using canes, and some eventually do not require an assistive device at all. Many above the knee amputees are able to use a transfemoral prosthesis without an assistive device.

How high does a transtibial prosthesis come up my leg?2020-05-07T19:10:47-06:00

The typical transtibial socket trimlines (or top of the prosthesis) end just above the sides of the kneecap. This ensures that your knee joint is protected and your body weight is evenly dispersed throughout the limb. You will still be able to bend your knee so you can sit, kneel and walk comfortably.

Is my prosthetic leg waterproof?2020-05-07T19:11:12-06:00

No, unfortunately, because the components can corrode. There are special, waterproof, prosthetic solutions available.

Will I still be able to bend my knee with a BK prosthetic solution?2020-05-07T19:11:33-06:00

Yes, you will be able to bend your knee while wearing your prosthesis.

I heard that you are supposed to toughen your limb by developing callouses in order to use a prosthesis. Is that true?2020-05-07T19:11:57-06:00

Absolutely not! Since the invention of the gel liner, your skin should be soft and free of callouses.

I have a Van Ness Rotationplasty. Are you able to make a prosthesis for me?2020-05-07T19:12:19-06:00

Yes! Absolutely. We have made many sockets for patients with a Van Ness Rotationplasty.

Do you treat patients that have had the Ertl Procedure?2020-05-07T19:12:39-06:00

Yes! The Ertl Procedure is a surgical method in which a “bony bridge” or piece of cartilage is created by your surgeon between the fibula and tibia. The same fitting principles apply, comfort and function are paramount. The Ertl method has been shown to reduce the movement between the tibia and fibula in some transtibial amputees.

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