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What's It Like: To be fitted for a prosthetic

Oklahoma has one of the highest rates in the U.S. for diabetes-related amputation. People with diabetes can suffer from problems with circulation that can lead to the amputation of part of their leg..
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: October 21, 2012

Why might someone need a prosthetic?

For some people, a prosthetic limb can provide mobility that's somewhat comparable to what they would have with their arm or leg.

Oklahoma has one of the highest rates in the U.S. for diabetes-related amputation. People with diabetes can suffer from problems with circulation that can lead to the amputation of part of their leg. Other reasons that might cause a person to lose a limb include traumatic injuries, such as being in a car accident or in military combat. Cancer and birth defects are other reasons a person might have a limb amputated.

What happens when you're fitted?

After your surgery, you likely will have to wait until the swelling in your limb goes down before you can be fitted for a temporary prosthetic. This usually happens once your bandages are removed and the wound is healed. After about six weeks, you will begin the fitting process.

The first prosthetic you receive will be temporary. You'll receive a permanent prosthetic months after your surgery, once your residual limb has taken a more final shape. Even though most of the swelling from your surgery goes down after about six months, about 20 percent of swelling takes a few years to work itself out.

During the temporary prosthetic fitting, you will meet with a prosthetics specialist and discuss what type of prosthetic is best for you. The specialist will want to know what types of activities you do on a day-to-day basis. For example, if you work outdoors, your needs would be different from someone who has a desk job. The goal of the prosthetic specialist will be to help you find a prosthetic that is most functional for you.

The prosthetics specialist likely will make a cast of your residual arm or leg. The specialist will use the cast to make a temporary socket for your arm or leg. That is how your residual limb connects to the prosthetic limb.

You will have a strap or harness that attaches to your prosthetic that allows you to use body movement to move the prosthetic. The specialist will make adjustments to these straps to ensure that you can move without having to make movements that are painful or too difficult.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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