Q: What are Limb Loss and Limb Differences?
A: Limb loss generally refers to the absences of any part of an extremity (arm or leg) due to surgical or traumatic amputation. The term Limb Differences is used in reference to the congenital absence or malformation of limbs.
Q: How frequently does it occur in the population?
A: In 2007, there were approximately 2 million people with limb loss in the United States (excluding fingers and toes). There are more than 185,000 new amputations performed each year in this country. The prevalence rate in 1996 was 4.9 per 1000 persons. The incidence rate was 46.2 per 100,000 persons with dysvascular disease, 5.86 per 100,000 persons secondary to trauma, 0.35 per 100,000 secondary to malignancy of a bone or joint. The birth prevalence of congenital limb deficiency in 1996 was 25.64 per 100,000 live births. The prevalence rate is highest among people aged 65 years and older, 19.4 per 100,000.
Q: What causes Limb Loss and Limb Differences?
A: Limb loss can occur due to trauma, infection, diabetes, vascular disease, cancer and other diseases. The causes of congenital Limb Differences are frequently unknown. In the past, many cases of Limb Difference were attributed to the use of drugs, such as thalidomide by the mother during pregnancy.
Q: I’m facing an amputation. What should I do first?
A: Information is extremely important to the new amputee. Many people do not know what to expect or what to do before or after having an amputation. We have found an informed patient has a much easier time adjusting and their recovery is smoother.
For these reasons, we believe pre-prosthetic care should begin prior to amputation whenever possible. It is important to discuss the ideal amputation level, both medical and prosthetic, with your doctor. The sooner we get involved, the sooner we can fit you with your prosthesis. We are happy to discuss, in detail, the process of prosthetic rehabilitation. Please contact Kamil or Vince at 307-237-3271.
Q: How soon after my amputation will I be able to get a prosthesis and start walking?
A: While it differs depending on how quickly you heal, a healthy person with good circulation and no post-operative complications might be ready to use a temporary prosthesis as soon as 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. If possible, it is always beneficial to consult with a Prosthetist prior to amputation. Please contact either Kamil or Vince at 307-237-3271.
Q: Is there anything I can do to speed up the rehabilitation process post-amputation?
A: We recommend wrapping your residual limb at all times and keeping it elevated whenever possible to reduce the edema (swelling). Please visit New Amputee Information for specific instructions on how to wrap your limb properly.
Q: What is a prosthesis?
A: A prosthesis (plural is prostheses) is an artificial limb that replaces a missing extremity: leg, foot, toes, arm, hand or fingers. The prosthesis is comprised of a socket and components. The socket fits over the remaining portion of the limb or body. The components are the mechanical or electrical parts that attach to the socket. A prosthesis can be functional, cosmetic, or both.
Q: How will my prosthesis stay on?
A: There are many different suspension methods—you should discuss the best for your needs with your Prosthetist. Some limbs are suspended using suction, some using vacuum-assisted socket design, some using pin liners, etc. Contact Kamil or Vince at 307-237-3271 for additional information regarding the different socket designs.
Q: Will it hurt to walk with my prosthesis?
A: No. A good fitting prosthesis should not hurt. While there are some amputees that have unique conditions where they experience chronic pain, most amputees should be comfortable in their sockets. Socket fit is the most integral part of your prosthesis. All of the high tech prosthetic components available are useless if you cannot wear your prosthesis because it hurts. It is imperative to communicate what you are feeling to your Prosthetist so you achieve a comfortable socket.
Q: How much will my prosthetic care cost?
A: That depends on the type of prosthesis and whether insurance is involved. Since prosthetics are custom made devices and involve a wide-range of different components, there is no standard cost. To find out the cost of your care with Precision Prosthetics & Orthotics, please contact Sandra Hourt at 307-237-3271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She will talk with you about your insurance coverage and any deductibles and co-pays. In the event that you do not have insurance, she will discuss your options.
Q: Is there a reason I can still feel my toes on my leg that was amputated?
A: This feeling is called Phantom Sensation or Phantom Pain and most amputees experience it. It is real and it can be very minimal or very severe.
Q: What exactly is Phantom Sensation?
A: Phantom Sensation applies to two feelings: 1—the feeling of actually having your limb after it has been amputated and 2—pain that feels like it comes from your residual limb.
Q: What causes Phantom Sensation?
A: There is no exact answer to what causes Phantom Sensation, and it continues to be debated. Below are some suggested causes of Phantom Sensation that come directly from amputees experiencing it.
Pain issues before amputation—Some amputees believe pain issues in muscles, joints, tendons, etc. simply continue as Phantom Sensations post amputation.
Stress—Some amputees find that stress, whether physical or mental, seems to intensify their phantom pain.
Inactivity—Some amputees find an increase in Phantom Sensation if they are inactive and/or stay in the same position for an extended period of time. They have found it helpful to make sure blood flow is not limited or impinged by how they are sitting.
Q: How often should I check my residual limb?
A: You should examine your residual limb daily. Make sure to check all parts of your limb. Call your Prosthetist immediately if you notice any skin changes such as blisters, redness, soreness, swelling, pain or drainage.
Q: Can I continue to enjoy sports with my prosthesis?
A: Most people can resume their sports activities using their prosthesis. Today, advances have been made that allow amputees to participate in practically any sport imaginable. There are professional amputee racecar drivers, professional amputee skiers, professional amputee kiteboarders, and even professional amputee runners, such as Oscar Pistorius, who is trying to compete in the Olympics against able-bodied runners.
Q: Can I take a shower with my prosthesis on?
A: No. Unless you have a prosthesis specifically designed for water use, you may not shower or bathe with it. Confirm with your Prosthetist if your prosthesis may be used for showering.
Q: Is there a group that I may contact for more information about amputees?
A: Yes, please visit Support for a local contact in our community and for the Amputation Coalition of America website. Both are excellent resources for amputees.
Q: Are there any magazines specifically for amputees?
A: Yes, InMotion Magazine is available. Ask your Prosthetist for a copy or contact InMotion Magazine directly.