You’ve Had an Amputation Now What?

Hi-Tech understands the many questions that surround having an amputation, living as an amputee, and receiving a prosthesis. We hope the following answers to frequently asked questions help you along the way. Please contact us if you have a question we didn’t answer or you would like more information about prosthetic care.

What happens after the amputation? Is there a prosthetic limb available that can make me just like I was before?

While a prosthesis is never as natural as your own limb, it can help you do many things quite effectively if you are willing to combine your energy and willpower into learning how to use it. The key to success is working with your doctor, prosthetist and therapists to address your needs and concerns.  Your prosthetist will work with you on design and fit. Your physical and occupational therapists will work with you to teach you how to use your new prosthesis

How does a prosthesis work?

Each device will be different, depending on your level of amputation, physical ability and functional needs. Your prosthetist will make suggestions based on the type of amputation and your activity level. A prosthesis is basically an extension of your body, made of component parts that create the leg and prosthetic foot, or the arm and hand. These parts are connected to a socket that fits over your residual limb.  Technology continues to change the prosthetic market. The advances in prosthetics continue to offer new opportunities to improve the lifestyle of people with limb loss.

What does a prosthesis look like?

A prosthesis can look however you want it to.  From the purely functional look of the mechanical parts to a cosmetic cover that gives you more of the look of a natural limb, your options are endless.  If you want to make a fashion statement, you can have your socket covered in your favorite team’s logo or accessorize it with your favorite color or pattern. With the addition of new and unique product covers now available, the prosthesis is truly an extension of you and your style.

Will I need a wheelchair or crutches?

Some amputees find a wheelchair or crutches to be helpful for some activities.  Many amputees have a wheelchair or pair of crutches that they use at least part of the time.  They may use them for nighttime trips to the bathroom, showering, and traveling long distances or if any problems arise that require leaving the prosthesis off for a period of time.  This is an individual decision based on your own needs and comfort level.

When will I be ready to get my prosthesis?

The timing depends on how quickly your residual limb fully heals from surgery.  Usually a prosthetic fitting begins two to six months after surgery.  This will be when the surgical incision has healed, the swelling has gone down and your physical condition improves.

How long does it take for a prosthesis to be fabricated?

Because Hi-Tech has its own fabrication lab onsite, work can be completed quickly and efficiently.  We usually say that it takes three to four visits to complete your prosthesis. Specific time frames are also dependent upon the medical documentation requirements. Regardless, Hi-Tech communicates with you throughout the process to make your care as seamless as possible.

Does my insurance pay for prosthetic services?

Generally, private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid provide coverage for a prosthesis. Our administrative staff is highly knowledgeable in the ever-changing health insurance industry and strives to get you the coverage that you deserve. Every effort is made to meet your specific financial situation and guide you through the insurance process.

Do you provide service to Veterans?

We’re proud to serve our veterans.  We have a long standing relationship with the VA Hospital in Lexington, KY.

Do I need a physician’s prescription for a prosthesis?

A prescription from your doctor is required by Hi-Tech and your insurance before a prosthesis is fabricated or certain supplies are ordered. We work with you and your physician to guarantee proper treatment and help you have the highest quality of life.

How soon can I get back to doing what I used to before the surgery?

You should be able to get back to a normal level of functioning within a few months. This new normal will depend on the location of your amputation as well as your overall health and well-being. Your prosthesis will be a tool to help you do the things you used to. How well you do depends on your goals, a comfortable prosthetic fitting, follow-up care, and determination. It is common to spend about six months to a year working with a rehabilitation team. The first year following an amputation is tough. There will be changes in the shape and size of your residual limb. A lot of work will be needed to recondition muscles. Your body will need to relearn activities, gait, balance and coordination.

What if the prosthesis doesn’t fit right?

The process of being fit for your prosthesis will involve several visits to create a device that fits you and your needs. Follow-up visits with your prosthetist are as important as the initial fitting. You will need to make several visits for adjustments with the prosthetist as your residual limb changes and continues to heal. Tell your prosthetist if the prosthesis is uncomfortable in any way. They can help you ease pressure areas, adjust alignment and work out any problems you may experience. Using your prosthesis should not be painful. The more comfortable the fit, the more likely you are to use it. Talk honestly with your prosthetist about your needs and goals. Discuss the things you want and need to do in your life after surgery

Is it difficult to learn how to use a prosthesis?

Learning to use a prosthesis is a tough job. It takes time, effort, strength, patience and determination. Our prosthetist will give you training on using your prosthesis. Many people find it helpful to work with a physical therapist who is familiar with amputees. Much like learning how to drive a car, there is a lot to learn at the beginning. It will become second nature with practice. You will need guidance on how to:

  • Take care of the prosthesis
  • Put on (don) and take off (doff) the prosthesis
  • Walk on different types of surfaces, including stairs and uneven surfaces

A Physical or occupational therapist can teach you to:

  • Handle emergencies safely, including falling down and getting up again
  • Perform daily activities at home, work and in a car
  • Improve your gait to help you walk better
  • Try out new things you may be unsure about, including sports and other recreational activities

How long will my prosthesis last?

Depending on your age, activity level and growth, the prosthesis can last anywhere from several months to several years. In the early stages after limb loss, many changes occur in the residual limb that can lead to shrinking of the limb. This may require socket changes, liners, or even a different device. Increased activity level and a desire to do more activities can create a need for a change in the prosthesis or its parts. Once you are comfortable with the fit of your device, the prosthesis needs only minor repairs or maintenance and can last an average of three years. Your prosthesis should be regularly checked by your prosthetist to avoid any major problems.  Plan on making follow up visits to your prosthetist a normal part of your life.

What is phantom Pain?

Phantom pain sensations are described as perceptions that an individual experiences relating to a limb or an organ that is not physically part of the body. As many as 80% of amputees experience some kind of “phantom” sensation in their amputated limbs.

Important Things
to Ask Yourself

  • What do you want to be able to do with the prosthesis?
  • What activities do you plan to do?
  • Do you want to walk or run?
  • Do you care about the way it looks?

Patient Testimonials

“I've had the pleasure to experience an excellent staff that was and still is the most caring, friendly and knowledgeable about treating people with life altering situations. I wouldn't want another staff caring for me.”

— Walter Dunn

“Awesome group of professionals from the front desk to the back door. Family, friendly atmosphere. Hi-Tech is my family and I could not do what I do without them and their care. I always tell everyone how wonderful you guys are; you have that perfect balance that can't be found in other places. That's one of the reasons I could not ever imagine myself being cared for by anyone else. Love you Guys, all of you!”

— DeeDee Smock

“Hi tech is amazing!! They have changed my life as an amputee. I recommend all amputees I meet to go to them! They are so kind and helpful and put their patients first!”

— Amy Harris

“I have driven 2 ½ hours to this business for my prosthetics since 1990. I had previously tried several others. I would never go anyplace else now.”

— Bill Vanover

“Shayne and the entire staff were so helpful and really show how much they care about my goals. With their help I am VERY satisfied with my abilities because of my new prosthesis.”

— Patrick OBrien

“Thanks for everything! All of you have been super. Seeing the smile on my dad’s face was most precious of all.”

— Rita G.

“Best leg I have ever had bar none. Would not take anything for it. Shayne and company hit a home run with this one!”

— Gary M.

How Can We Help?

Hi-Tech Artificial Limbs can provide you with the most up-to-date technologies available today.Contact us today for your individual consultation.