Amputee Frequently Asked Questions

Patient-Centred Care

To ensure you stay comfortable and safe when using a prosthesis we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions. The answers below provide guidance on what you can expect from your prosthesis and general care advice.

Frequently Asked Questions*

I am going to have an amputation and would like more information?
Your Consultant or GP can contact the rehabilitation centre and arrange for you to meet with our team prior to your amputation to give you more information.

Will I get a prosthesis?
Your initial assessment with the Consultant and members of the rehabilitation team will determine whether your health and any other pertinent issues would prevent you from using an artificial limb. You may ask for a review at a later date if you feel your circumstances have changed.

Do I have to pay for my artificial limb?
No. All limbs are supplied free of charge by the NHS. Private limb services at The London Prosthetic Centre are available if you are not entitled to NHS treatment or would prefer this option.

Is the first limb a temporary limb?
No. The first limb you are issued with is custom made for you. As time goes on, your residuum will mature and change shape and your socket will be adjusted or remade. The type of limb may also be reviewed to suit your changing needs.

How long will my prosthesis last for?
The prosthetic components will last for many years as long as they are serviced regularly. You will be advised of the recommended frequency for maintenance of your limb.

When will I walk again?
Not everyone progresses at the same pace. There are variances of all sorts of patients and amputation levels so this is impossible to determine.

How does my prosthesis stay on?
There are a number of ways of doing this such as straps, sleeves, suction or an interface liner with a pin. Each method has its advantages and will be discussed with you in the clinic.

Will the bone at the bottom of my residual limb take the weight?
The level of your amputation will determine where the pressure is taken. Any cut bones will not directly support your weight although there may be contact. Every effort is made to ensure comfort and protection of your residuum.

Can I change the shoes I wear?
Yes you can, but the height of the heel and sole need to be similar unless are provided with a foot which can be adjusted at home.

Why is my prosthetic leg heavy?
It is as light as we can make it but needs to be strong enough to support your weight. It is actually much lighter than the leg that has been amputated but feels heavy because it is not part of the body and is being moved by only a short section of your remaining leg.

Can I wear my prosthesis in bed?
We advise you to remove the prosthesis overnight as you may damage your residual limb or other leg. If removed your skin can rest, the stump can be washed and dried and you can check there has been no rubbing while you have been wearing it. The socket of your artificial limb can also be cleaned after use.

What will I be able to do with my prosthetic arm?
Your prosthesis will either be purely cosmetic or have a detachable hand which can be exchanged with numerous specialist and functional devices. The method of opening and closing a hand or tool will vary either using straps or incorporating a battery to power a motor in the hand.

How long can I wear my prosthesis for?
Everyone’s tolerance varies. You will have a structured programme initially to increase your wear pattern, but over time and with practice you will become more familiar with what your limits are.

My skin goes red when I wear my prosthesis, is this OK?
Certain areas of your socket will produce more pressure than other areas and will tend to redden with use. This redness should go away within 20 minutes when the limb is removed. If the redness persists or is itchy, contact your GP or the Rehabilitation Centre for advice.

Why are the bones in my residual limb becoming more prominent?
Initially your limb will be swollen, however as the fluid reduces your bones will start to show more. In addition, the muscles that used to move your lower leg begin to reduce through lack of use which makes the bones appear to be more prominent. It is not usually a problem.

Can I drive with my artificial limb?
You will need to contact the DVLA and you may need to make adaptations to your car. Ask at your Rehabilitation Centre for more specific advice.

Will my prosthetic leg look like my own?
The prosthesis is generally covered with foam which is shaped to match your remaining limb. It is not always possible to match the size as your residuum is still swollen plus it is then encased with one or more layers of the socket. A silicone or fabric cover can then be added over the foam.

Will my prosthetic arm look natural?
Your prosthesis will not hang completely straight due to the suspension required. There are various movements you can perform for the arm to rest in a natural position, for example when you sit down. Essentially the more you wear the arm, the more natural your movements will become.

* As every patient's needs are unique please ensure you follow the advice and instructions provided to you by your prosthetist and care provider.

The above FAQs are for guidance only. If you are experiencing problems with your prosthesis please contact your prosthetist and rehabilitation service immediately who will be able to clinically assess your needs and provide tailored advice.