To learn more about our assessment, fitting, and consultation processes, PBO Group Prosthetics Bracing Orthotics can help. Here is a series of common questions for customers looking for prosthetic limbs, supplies and skin products. See what our customers commonly ask our professionals in Scarborough, Mississauga, Guelph and Etobicoke. Give us a call, or book a consultation with our prosthetists today.
1. What are prosthetic limbs made from?
Prosthetic limbs are made of plastic, aluminum, titanium, stainless steel, carbon, and various foam and thermoplastic materials depending on their design. Each prosthesis has a custom made interface called a socket, usually made of fiberglass, and attached are components that are usually purchased that are made of various metal and plastics including silicone.
2. How long do prosthesis last?
A prosthesis usually lasts between three to five years. If you are an active user, it may wear out sooner. It is quite common that the amputated limb changes in shape and volume enough in a couple of years that it requires to be replaced due to inadequate socket fit. Children who are growing require replacement prosthesis to keep up with their growth as well.
3. My limb was amputated in a different country. Can you help me?
Yes, we can provide a prosthesis to amputees from different countries. The fitting of a prosthesis requires several visits to our facility to work with the amputee in customizing their prosthesis. We cannot make prosthesis without the amputee being present. To start the process we would require a consult visit to determine what is most appropriate for the individual, and to determine what is also affordable. If you are an Ontario resident then there is partial funding available to you to access to help pay for the prosthesis.
4. Do I have to have a referral for an assessment?
You require a referral for an assessment if you want to access the provincial government funding system known as the Assistive Devices Program. If you are ineligible for this funding then there is no requirement of a referral to be assessed.
5. Will my prosthetic limb be comfortable?
Your prosthesis should be comfortable to wear. It is a custom made device made to match your body as best as we can do with limits of today’s available technology. It is never a match for what was lost, but we pride ourselves in doing our very best to provide a prosthesis that can be worn comfortably all day.
6. How long does it take to adjust to wearing a prosthesis?
Of course it depends upon the individual but you can start wearing your prosthesis as soon as it is made for you. Sometimes if you are recovering from surgery it takes time to heal but we start the fitting process as soon as there are no open wounds. The adjustment period is usually around one to two years before you are completely adjusted to life with a prosthesis.
7. How do I clean and maintain my prosthesis?
Daily cleaning of the interface socket and socks or liners is recommended to maintain your prosthesis and to keep your skin in good condition. Warm water and soap on a cloth is all that is usually required. Many amputees condition their skin with a body cream after they have removed their prosthesis and washed their limb.
8. Can I wear my prosthesis to bed, or for long periods of time?
It is not recommended to wear your prosthesis to bed or when sleeping. Your limb inside a prosthesis is typically in a tight, warm, moist environment and we recommend it be taken off daily and cleaned and allowed to “breathe” to maintain skin health. Your prosthesis in bed may get caught up in bed sheets and could cause twisting forces that may harm your limb.
9. Can I drive a car with my prosthetic leg or arm?
Yes you can. If you wear a prosthetic leg on your right side then you must pass another driving test to show that you are safe either using your prosthesis or by using adaptive changes made to your vehicle to drive. The Ministry of Transport is responsible to test you.
10. Will I be able to exercise and participate in sports with an artificial limb?
Yes, and we encourage you to get as active as you can. Being in good physical health will only make it easier for you to adapt to life with your prosthesis. There are many sport specific prosthesis or components available that make it easier to participate in some sports, but you can experiment with different activities and find the ones that you are able to do safely and comfortably. Swimming is an excellent activity and can be enjoyed by almost everyone and can be done with or without wearing a prosthesis.
11. Can I take a shower or bath with my prosthesis?
Unless you have a specific, waterproof prosthesis made for showering or swimming we highly recommend that you do not immerse it in water. Most prosthesis have components that can rust or deteriorate when subjected to water.
12. How noticeable will my new prosthetic limb be?
When requested, we do our very best to make your prosthesis as lifelike as possible. Most lower limb prosthesis are easily shaped to resemble the outline of your lower leg and are hard to spot, especially when wearing shoes and pants or skirt. There are highly cosmetic covers made out of silicone that are available that are very lifelike. It is also very common these days to not have your prosthesis covered and leave it “exposed”. Many amputees are not worried about being seen as missing a limb, but like to show off their technology that allows them to be active participants in life. It is your personal choice.
Most upper limb prosthesis are covered with a silicone type glove that is made to closely resemble a hand and can be colour matched to your skin.
13. What is the process for fitting a prosthetic limb?
It starts with a consultation to determine what type/style of prosthesis is best suited to the individual. We then take a custom impression of the amputated limb and start the process of designing the shape and volume of the prosthetic socket that will interface with your limb. During this process we also start attaching the specific componentry to the socket to test for function and to properly align everything to the individual. Once everything “works” we will take it to the finishing stage where we make the prosthesis out of the final materials for strength and cosmetic requirements.
The whole process may take a couple of weeks or many months, depending on the complexity of the fitting or other complications that may develop during the fitting process.
14. What does a typical prosthesis cost?
This is a difficult question because of the wide range of available technologies and their costs to provide. A typical below knee prosthesis may cost around $10,000 but can cost much less and a whole lot more depending on technology used. A typical above knee prosthesis has a greater range in price because of the addition of a prosthetic knee joint. As a resident of Ontario you have some funding available to you through the Assistive Devices Program. This program partially funds one prosthesis and has limits to what it helps fund and can be accessed when needed every three years.