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Disability Action Center NW

The Process of Getting a New….Leg!

   Today I thought I’d write for you about something I get asked about a lot; what happens when I need a new prosthetic leg.
An appointment day starts by getting in to a patient transport ambulance provided by my local council for disabled people to get to and from hospital appointments with ease.. as someone who is currently unable to drive, these services are amazing and I’m so grateful they exist!
These vehicles usually look like ambulances but are white – and are never used for emergencies like regular ambulances.  The vehicles are also fully adapted so that I can be wheeled on to the transport in my wheelchair comfortably without any hassle at all, and for people who have only recently been through surgery, there is room for a stretcher too.
Once I get to my rehabilitation centre, I check in at reception (I’ve been going there for 20 years.. they all know me so well!) and then take a seat and wait for my prosthetist to call my name when she is ready.
The first appointment for a new prosthetic leg is called a casting.. I will be measured and then a cast (the type you have when you break a bone) is then applied to my stump and I wait for it to dry/harden.
The purpose of the cast is to make a replica of my stump so that a comfortable prosthetic socket can be made! Once the cast has dried, it’s removed and then we double check measurements to make sure everything is correct; once this is done, that’s my casting appointment complete.
The second stage of getting a new prosthesis is usually called a fitting. I will have a socket and a roughly (not perfect yet) complete prosthetic leg to try on.. I usually have to practice walking in between rails wearing this, and I will be giving pointers to my prosthetist like:
“This feels a bit sore, here”or “The prosthetic leg feels too tall/small/uncomfortable” or “The way I walk is hurting”
This way, she marks the areas that I complain about with a marker and then leaves to go back into the workshop to work on my leg and fix the parts that aren’t fitting correctly.  This is an ongoing process until I don’t have anything else that feels uncomfortable. Sometimes it takes a long time and we have to schedule another appointment to continue work on the leg.
It can be quite frustrating for me as I never really know if the new prosthetic leg is really uncomfortable or if it’s just a case of getting used to it!It’s much like a pair of brand new shoes.. you have to wear it over and over sometimes to see if it’s ok.
After the fitting appointment(s) are complete, it will finally be time to go and collect my new leg! I collect it from the hospital and they are always making sure I’m 100% happy before sending me home – they have to make sure the leg is comfortable and safe before I leave.
It will take me a long time to get used to the new leg even if it’s comfortable as I have to practice walking with it first with crutches and then using my wheelchair when walking feels too much.It’s very important to make sure I only wear the prosthetic leg indoors at first as this is safest option to prevent falls outside or alone. This process will usually take me a long time to get used to the new leg even if it’s comfortable as I have to practice walking with it first with crutches and then using my wheelchair when walking feels too much.It’s very important to make sure I only wear the prosthetic leg indoors at first as this is safest option to prevent falls outside or alone.
This process will take about 2-3 months, and finally the leg feels “right”. Then I can ditch my crutches and walk freely with my prosthetic. I can even donate my old prosthetics to countries that are less fortunate!