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Using a Prosthetic Device

Choosing and Using a Prosthesis continued...

Prostheses are designed and fitted by a specialist called a prosthetist. The fitting process typically begins in the hospital shortly after amputation. It involves:

  • Measuring the stump and the healthy opposite limb
  • Making a plaster mold
  • Fashioning the socket
  • Attaching the shaft
  • Aligning the prosthesis

Depending on your comfort and how well your wound is healing, you may begin to practice with your artificial limb as early as 10 to 14 days after surgery. A physical or occupational therapist will train you on how to use and care for it.

Prosthetic Comfort and Care

To gain the greatest benefits of the new limb and help prevent problems, it is important to take care of the device, the amputation site, and your general health by doing the following every day:

  • Remove the prosthesis before going to bed. Examine the device for loose parts or damage. Examine the stump for blisters or other signs of irritation.
  • Clean and put a small amount of lotion on the stump and massage the skin.
  • Place a bandage on the stump to decrease swelling when you are not wearing the prosthesis.
  • Regularly inspect the skin of the stump to look for sores or wounds. You may need to have someone else help you look or use a mirror.
  • Practice exercises recommended by your physical therapist. These will include exercises for stretching, range of motion, body positioning, and endurance.
  • For leg prostheses, wear proper fitting shoes and never change the height of your heels. The prosthesis is designed for one heel height only.
  • Clean the prosthesis' socket with soap and water.
  • Wear clean dry socks with the prosthesis.

It is also important to maintain a stable body weight. This will help to keep the prosthesis fitting properly. You should also have the prosthesis examined and serviced once a year to make sure it is in proper working order.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on September 12, 2015
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