To assist you in finding the right practitioner for your needs, COPA is pleased to provide you with the following consumer advice and links to practitioners and support groups.
Being an Informed Consumer...
Being fit with a prosthetic or orthotic device is a complicated, time-consuming and expensive undertaking. Being an informed consumer is your best bet for a successful outcome. A good place to start is to ask your doctor or physical therapist to refer you to other amputees or patients they may know of in your area. Most individuals with an amputation are eager to share their experiences with others and can be a wealth of information that must not be overlooked. You may wish to check and see if there is an amputee support group in your area.
Prosthetics and orthotics, like all other occupations, vary widely depending on the skills and talents of the individuals involved. Many devices are custom-fabricated fabricated directly from plaster casts, or by molds and measurements taken by the practitioner. The fit of the device may be the most crucial component of your prosthesis or orthoses. Other components such as knees, shins and feet are also important for function and may directly or indirectly aid in the fit and function of your device. Fortunately, most prosthetists and orthotists are caring individuals and skilled at their craft.
Choosing A Practitioner Who Meets Your Needs
The success and progress of your rehabilitation depends on the skill, knowledge, and caring of your orthotist or prosthetist. National certification or state licensing is the best way to identify competent practitioners.
However, before you begin your search for a practitioner, you must first determine your goals and expectations:
- Are there activities you expect to be able to perform after the prosthesis/orthosis is complete?
- Are there activities you believe you must be able to perform after the prosthesis/orthosis is complete?
- Do you need a referral to a physician familiar with orthotics & prosthetics?
- Will you need a physical therapist?
- What financial support do you have?
- Is there a support group in the area that can help you?
These are some of the basic concerns you should consider before beginning your search, and you no doubt will have more. Keep in mind that who you eventually select should be aware of these concerns and work with you to achieve your desired results.
What To Ask The Prospective Professional
You will have many questions pertinent to your situation. When searching for your health care professional, keep in mind these important points, and ask the practitioner to be honest with you.
- Determine if the practitioner is willing to discuss your concerns.
- Will he or she include you in the rehab process?
- Will he or she explain every component and everything you do not understand?
- Is the practitioner willing to work with a surgeon? A physical therapist?
- Ask the practitioner if you will be able to perform the activities you want to do. And the activities you must do.
- Will your prospect discuss options for you? Are there compromises? New components or experimental components that can meet your needs?
- Will the practitioner go out of his or her way to ensure the most function and comfort possible?
- Will he or she try new "opportunities" without charging you to determine the best fit possible?
- Will you be required to sign a release? If so, when? After, or before the prosthesis is complete?
- What kind of after-purchase support does the practitioner provide?
- Does the practitioner accept your form of payment?
- Is the practitioner willing to accept your financial provider's payment as payment in full?
- Ask to talk to current customers with the same level of amputation as yours. Is the practitioner willing to provide you with those references?
These questions are just a beginning. Use them to help determine which practitioner will best assist you.