Prosthetic Care

There are several reasons why a child could be missing a limb.

He may have lost it in a trauma, like a car accident. He may need to have it amputated (removed) after an infection. Or maybe, he was born without it, a congenital issue.

No matter how it happens, losing all or part of the arm, hand, leg, or foot can be scary. However, it doesn’t mean that a child will never be able to live a normal life.

A prosthetic is a replacement for a missing limb. It can help a child with tasks of everyday functioning, like walking, getting dressed, or eating.

As technology has improved, prosthetics have become more comfortable and functional—to the point that many prosthetic-wearers can be active in everything from mountain climbing to marathon running.

One of the most impressive parts of a prosthetic is its appearance. A process called cosmesis can make a prosthetic look completely lifelike—which can make a child more comfortable and less self-conscious in social settings.

Receiving A Prosthetic

When a child is ready to get a prosthesis, he will meet with a prosthetist—someone who specializes in making artificial limbs.  

The prosthetist will go through several steps to make sure the child receives a functioning, comfortable prosthesis:

  1. Evaluation, measurement, and casting: The prosthetist will get the details she needs to create a well-fitting prosthetic.
  2. Temporary socket filling: Artificial limbs are attached to a socket that fits over what remains of the missing limb. In this step, the child will get a temporary socket to help identify the best fit.
  3. Final socket delivery: The OIC clinician will create the final customized socket. Once the child receives the socket, he may need several follow-up appointments to perfect the fit of his prosthesis.
  4. Gait training and analysis: The child’s care team at OIC will work together to create a physical therapy plan that helps the child adapt to wearing his prosthesis.

Once he’s gotten his prosthesis, a child needs to see his prosthetist regularly to make sure his new limb is in top shape. The prosthetist will recommend how often the child should follow up.

A prosthesis can last anywhere from several months to several years—it depends on the child’s age, growth, and activity level.



Caring For A Prosthetic

The work’s not quite done yet—a prosthesis will only do its job if it’s taken care of correctly.

A child’s prosthetist and physician will give each child individual instructions for prosthesis care. These instructions may include:

  • Remove the prosthesis before bathing or swimming, since most artificial limbs should not be submerged in water.
  • Avoid putting chemicals (e.g., deodorant, bug spray, lotion) directly on the prosthesis.
  • Use mild soap and water to wash anything that makes contact with the skin (e.g., liners, the inside of the socket) every day. Let it dry completely before putting it back on—a damp prosthetic is the perfect environment for a fungal infection to grow.
  • Wear shoes that are the correct height for the prosthesis. Improper footwear can throw off a child’s alignment, straining the joints or the residual limb (the remaining part of the missing limb).

The OIC Prosthetic Care Team

At OIC we draw from a wide range of experts and expertise in order to help your child with his or her prosthetic care. If you come to OIC for help, your team could include:

The Pediatric Orthopaedist specializes in the musculoskeletal system of children. They provide surgical interventions when necessary such as tendon lengthening.

The Pediatrician reviews medical issues and coordinates the general healthcare of the patient, in addition to working with the orthopaedic surgeon for pre-operative assessments if surgery is indicated and overseeing medical issues for hospitalized patients.

The Physical Therapist is a health care professional trained to assess and treat movement and function. They examine muscle range of motion, spasticity, strength and posture and assess their impact on function and mobility. Our physical therapists communicate with community therapists to help design and implement treatment interventions and equipment such as wheelchairs and braces. Gait studies at the Kameron Gait and Motion Analysis Laboratory are conducted by physical therapists.

The Nurse Coordinator assists in making sure all medical orders are carried out, and provides case management and nursing assessment for the patient.   

The Orthotist works with the team to prevent unequal or unbalanced muscle groups which can lead to deformities as the child grows.

The Cast Technician helps ensure that the casts and casting regimen your child requires is managed carefully and effectively to ensure that patients heal properly.