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The time elapsed immediately after surgery until the incision line is fully healed (and prosthetic fitting can begin) varies for each patient. The average healing time is approximately 8-12 weeks. During this time, the main goals are to maintain upper body muscle strength, to reduce swelling and for the incision line to fully heal.
When your residual limb is fully healed, a plaster impression or cast of your limb will be taken. If you’ve ever broken a bone before, you’ve probably worn a cast. This cast is a little different because once hardened, it is immediately removed. Just like a baker needs a pan or a mold to bake a cake, your prosthetist needs a mold of your residual limb to create a custom prosthesis just for you.
Approximately one to two weeks after casting, you will be fit with a test or diagnostic socket. Just like a dental temporary, a temporary prosthetic check socket allows your prosthetist to ensure maximum comfort, fit and function of the prosthesis. A clear plastic material is shaped into temporary socket to fit your residual limb and can be adjusted during the appointment so that the final device fits like a glove. At this time, if you will to be fit with a myoelectric prosthesis, your prosthetist will determine the best locations to place the surface electrodes within the socket, to pick up your muscle movements to operated the terminal device.
One or two diagnostic fittings may be necessary to get your prosthesis to fit just right. These fittings ensure your prosthesis fits well, the components work properly together and the prosthesis is correct length, so it closely matches the length of your sound side arm.
Approximately two weeks after your last diagnostic fitting, you will receive your final device.
3 Weeks & Beyond
Physical therapy is strongly encouraged after you receive your upper extremity prosthesis. We will teach you the basics on how to use your device, however full mastery is achieved through working with physical and occupational therapists with upper extremity prosthetic experience.