Frequently Asked Questions for Arnold Orthotics and Prosthetics

Here are some commonly asked questions for orthotics and prosthetics clinics.


My father recently had his leg amputated.  Will he be able to walk with an artificial limb?


If his physician determines he is a candidate for an artificial leg, there are many factors which affect the success of a prosthesis and the amputee’s ability to properly utilize the device.  Some examples are type of amputation, skin condition, and the patient’s overall medical condition.  A consultation and evaluation by a qualified prosthetist is essential for the patient to reach their maximum potential and return to their daily activities. Your prosthetist’s craftsmanship and ability to design your prosthesis also plays an important role.


I am a diabetic and my physician has prescribed Diabetic Shoes for me. Why is it important for me to wear these special shoes?


People with diabetes are at increased risk of foot problems, including ulcers, or sores on the feet or ankles caused by infection or injuries.  Prevention is the key.  Diabetic shoes will help keep your feet healthy.  All diabetic shoes are extra-depth to accommodate a custom diabetic insole.  Your choice of provider should be a certified practitioner, as they have the experience to handle all of your shoe needs, including adjustments if necessary.


My child has been diagnosed with a spinal condition and his physician has prescribed a brace.  What kinds of braces are used?


Children and adults can have spinal conditions that require bracing to aid in post-surgical recovery, back pain, or to help realign the spine if scoliosis is the diagnosis.  Depending on the diagnosis, there are various treatment avenues to consider, such as bracing with soft corset-type supports to rigid plastic body jacket that apply forces to control and minimize abnormal curvatures in the spine.  Your physician may call upon the expertise of a certified orthotist to assure the appropriate brace is provided for your condition.


What are custom foot orthotics and how can they work for me?

The term custom foot orthotics refers to custom shaped and molded inlays that are created from negative model or digital casts.  The end results are an accommodative orthotic that can relieve discomfort and even offload problem areas.  Custom orthotics can be used to treat a variety of conditions and should always be prescribed by your physician and provided by a certified practitioner.


How will my finished prosthesis look as compared to my existing limb?


A prosthesis, depending on the level and site of the amputation, can be expected to resemble the basic shape and skin tone of the sound side.  Sometimes the amputation can affect the shape of the cosmetic covering, casing the prosthesis to appear larger or misshapen.  We strive to match skin tones and texture through custom protective coverings and artistic renditions of the sound limb. 


What is foot drop and how is it treated?

Footdrop is an abnormal condition where an individual is unable to dorsiflex the foot.  In other words, while walking, the front of the foot drags the grounds.  There can be many causes of footdrop such as stroke, trauma, and various neuromuscular diseases.  Treatment for footdrop should be determined by an individual’s physician.  There are several types of orthotic devices that can be utilized to control the situation.


How can I reduce the risk of amputation?

You can practice good foot hygiene and care.  Smoking and other factors can affect the body and decrease valuable circulation required to maintain healthy limbs.  It is important to practice proper safety habits around machinery.  If you have been diagnosis with diabetes, it is very important to check your feet on a daily basis and report any changes to your  physician immediately.  A proper diet and exercise regiment  prescribed by your physician is recommended.  Diabetic shoes and custom insoles are sometimes prescribed by your physician also as a preventative measure.


I wear an artificial leg and want to know how often I should go see my prosthetist for a check-up.


Assuming you are not having any difficulties with your prosthesis, it is a good idea to see your prosthetist about every 6 months.  Your artificial limb is a mechanical device and needs to be checked by your prosthetist to assure proper maintenance.  Receiving your artificial limb is not the end of the process, it’s the beginning of a relationship between you and your prosthetist.


Will the custom orthotics my child’s physician prescribed completely correct his “knock kneed” situation?


Custom orthotics can sometimes be used to aid in the correction of mild “knock knee” or knee valgus.  The custom orthotics are designed and custom fabricated to apply corrective forces to the foot and ankle.  The devices can be custom contoured to change the individual’s gait on weight distribution throughout the body.  While there is a limit to the amount of correction possible, the semi-rigid support is designed to maintain alignment of the foot/ankle, thus providing proper control the the lower extremities, including the knees.


I’ve recently suffered from a stroke and my physician has informed me and my family that I will be working with a Rehab team.  What is the rehabilitation team and who can be a member?

The rehab team consists of an entire team of specialists that will assist you during your rehabilitation.  Usually, this team will be comprised of your physician, a physical therapist, and, a prosthetist and/or orthotist.  Depending on your situation, others examples that may be on the team are occupational therapists, rehabilitation counselor, a wound care specialist, and social worker.  Your physician will decide what members of the team are needed for you.


How will I know if I need custom diabetic shoes or not?


You will know if you need custom diabetic shoes if your physician prescribes them for you.  Your physician will make the determination of custom shoes versus off-the-shelf diabetic shoes.  Custom shoes are sometimes indicated for individuals with severe foot deformities, and other conditions that cannot be addressed without custom shoes.  A certified practitioner will take casts of your feet so the shoes are custom hand made to provide the appropriate accommodations ordered by your physician.


What type of arm prosthesis will I get and what will it look like?


Your physician will determine what type of upper extremity artificial arm is appropriate for you.  The physician may rely upon the recommendation from your prosthetist to help in this determination.  Upper extremity prostheses are either body powered or myo-electrical controlled, or a combination of both referred to as a hybrid.   Each system has it’s own advantages, which can be explained to you in detail by your prosthestist.


My physician has informed me that I will be needing an amputation in the near future.  Is it too soon to have an initial consultation?


Absolutely not!  In fact, your physician may order that for you prior to your admission to the hospital, or immediately after your surgery.  Many people have consultations before surgery to gain insight and direction for life after the amputation.  Patients should feel free to discuss their concerns and ask questions of their prosthetist.  The relationship between patient and prosthetist will have a vital role in the patient’s future mobility.


How soon after my surgery can I be fit with a prosthesis?


Once your physician gives you a prescription for a prosthesis, you can estimate that in general the average person will receive their preparatory prosthesis in about six to eight weeks.  The time period depends on the healing time of the residual limb.  Another consideration is how long you have been wearing stump shrinkers.


How long will it take to make my leg?


Prosthetic fabrication is both an art and a science.  The time each device takes is unique and varies with each patient, depending on the patient’s individual needs.  The average time for lower extremity prosthesis is 3-5 business days, and 2-4 business days for an upper extremity device.  If a more complex design is prescribed, the fabrication time may be extended.


What is the procedure for boarding an airplane with a prosthesis and what can I expect?


It is best to notify the ticket agent upon arrival of your prosthetic device, as well as security at each check point.  The security personnel will need to touch and inspect the device and may even remove the device.  You may ask for a private screening and remember to bring any essential tools or donning aids you may need with you.  Contact your airline before going to the airport for exact requirements and procedures to assure your safety and privacy. The airlines are very prepared and will make the process as simple and private for you as possible.


How is the decision made on what type of prosthesis I will receive?


Your physician must write a prescription for your leg, however, your certified practitioner has the job of assessing your current requirements for daily life and generating a prosthetic design that will accommodate your individual needs.  Your activity level potential and your weight class will play a vital role in determining the components used to create your custom prosthesis.  Other factors such as your overall health and skin integrity will also help determine your components.


What should I do since I’ve noticed my infant seems to have flat feet since he began walking several months ago?


Some children exhibit flat feet for several years without any long-term complications.  If you are concerned you should consult your child’s pediatrician for professional advice.  Some physicians will order custom arch supports for flat footed children to wear until the underlying muscle formation of the arch is complete.  In some cases, the custom flexible arch supports will encourage the structure to grow normally.  If custom arch supports are ordered for your child, remember to consult a certified practitioner.