A person who has recently lost a limb must work hard to recover and reach his or her functional goals. Results are best when the patient works with a comprehensive health care team, including physicians, nurses, therapists — and a prosthetist. Prosthetists are uniquely qualified to help people with amputations return to a functional status through the delivery of comprehensive prosthetic care.

A hard-earned title

While prosthetists have historically been labeled as “limb makers,” they are highly educated and trained health care professionals. With a master’s degree as the minimum entry-level educational requirement, a prosthetist’s knowledge of anatomy, physiology, physics, pathology, biomechanics and other areas forms the foundation upon which their areas of responsibility are based.

For individuals who have experience limb loss, the relationship between patient and prosthetist is critically important.

The prosthetist’s primary responsibilities are to evaluate, design, fabricate, fit and deliver an artificial limb or prosthesis. The prosthetist also provides follow-up care once the prosthesis has been delivered. All of these important functions contribute to a patient’s functional outcome.

When you first visit your prosthetist, it is important to discuss your priorities and preferences. Do you want to be athletic? Are you more concerned about the way your prosthesis looks or its functional capabilities? Discuss all of your health issues with your prosthetist to determine the best possible options for your care.

Process over product

Keep in mind that the prosthesis itself is not the end product. Rather, it is a part of an overall treatment plan and represents the culmination of planning and execution designed specifically to maximize the functional potential of the person for whom it was designed. The realization of that goal provides the prosthetist with the greatest satisfaction.

Successful relationships between patients and health care providers help to ensure the best possible outcomes. For individuals who have experience limb loss, the relationship between patient and prosthetist is critically important. The tools and support prosthetists provide go a long way toward helping people find their “new normal” after limb loss.