Replacing the prothesis every time the child grows (ie every few months) can be a mistake because it takes several months for the child to get adapted to a new prosthesis. The good news is that there are adjustable features which can be built into a prosthesis for a child to make minor adjustments until a whole new device is needed. In addition, a new prosthesis for a child may come with padding built in which can be adjusted to accommodate growth. Sometimes the length can also be adjusted to match the length of the other limb. A new prosthesis may be required in cases where there is a significant change in body weight, skin ulceration, bone overgrowth or trauma to the residual limb. Your Sunshine Prosthetics & Orthotics prosthetist is able to tell you when a change is necessary.
There should be a balance between these two which will change as the child grows. Small children will need the guidance from their parents; as they become teenagers, they will want to make their own decisions. At this point they will also be more influenced by peers, and amputee role models.
Lifetime of a prosthesis varies depending on the specific limb, usage, and your age, but it is typically 3-5 years. During the first year of recovery after amputation, parts of your “temporary” prosthesis may have to be replaced, usually the portion that surrounds your residual limb. This piece is called the “socket”. Your limb will change in size during the first year as part of the normal healing process (“limb maturation”) and the socket may be replaced several times.
While most medical insurance coverage will include prosthetic limbs with a prescription from your doctor, it is best to check your policy and call your insurance company to be sure.
Your first fitting for your temporary prosthetic limb will be after your surgical wounds have healed and swelling is minimal. This is usually 6-8 weeks after surgery, depending on how quickly you heal.