If you recently had an arm amputated or are about to have such a surgery, then you surely have a lot on your mind. One thing you are probably thinking about is prosthetics. In all the mayhem of your injury and surgery, you may not have had much time to discuss prosthetics with your surgeon and care team yet. That is certainly a conversation you want to have, but in the meantime, here are the basics you should know.
Not all amputees use prosthetics.
Have you just been assuming you'll use a prosthesis, or has it been specifically mentioned to you by your doctor? While many arm amputees do use a prosthesis, not everyone does, and you don't necessarily have to use or wear one. You might find that you get by just fine without a prosthesis in your daily life and only need to wear one for specific tasks, or you might find that you do want to wear one all the time. Just be open to whatever feels best; don't try to force yourself into a prosthesis when it doesn't feel right.
You'll have a consultation with a prosthetics specialist.
After your amputation, your surgeon will generally want you to spend at least a month healing and adapting before you are fitted for a prosthesis. This allows you to be fitted with less pain, and it also helps ensure you're a little more adapted to the absence of your limb and how you naturally compensate. You won't meet with your surgeon about the prosthesis; it will be a different orthopedic specialist who specifically fits and designs prostheses.
There are different types of prosthetics for different lifestyles.
There are many styles of arm prostheses out there, and the number one thing that determines which is right for you is your lifestyle. The simplest type of prosthetic is called a passive prosthetic. It looks like an arm and can do some basic grasping, but is not overly functional. This works for most people completing daily tasks. Another type of prosthesis is called a body-powered prosthesis. It is driven by changes in muscle tension in your trunk or upper limb and allows more precision to allow you to compete in sports and the like. Your prosthetic specialist will ask you all sorts of questions about your lifestyle to determine which type of prosthesis is best for you.
This is just an overview of arm prosthetics! To learn more, make sure you have a good conversation with your orthopedic doctor and a prosthetics specialist.