An ill-fitting socket can make your life miserable. An ill-fitting prosthetist? Hoo boy. It’s pretty hard to feel comfortable in your device when your practitioner rubs you the wrong way.
“What is/are the most important question(s) to ask a prosthetist before you sign on as a client?”
The responses ranged from one-sentence statements to full manifestos. Although assessing a prosthetist is inherently subjective, our informal survey produced some general guidelines for identifying a compatible caregiver. Here’s some of the advice that surfaced most frequently.
- Be mission-driven. “I let them know what my dreams are and ask them what they can do to get me there,” says Angie Heuser, who hosts the Be-You-Tiful Adaptive Warrior podcast. An anonymous respondent suggests writing down the specific activities you want your prosthesis to support. “Make a list of requirements,” this person says. “The prosthetist should be able to give you a range of [prosthestic] designs based on that.”
- Value versatility. Living with limb loss is all about adapting and finding creative solutions. Is your prosthetist as adaptable as you are? Amputee author Kendra Herber asks her prospective prosthetists “how they feel about trying new things, taking risks, and thinking outside the box.” Avid outdoorsman Chad Riggs agrees: “My leg is kind of unconventional, so thinking outside the box is a must.” Paralympic athlete Lacey Henderson gauges a practitioner’s resourcefulness by asking: “What accommodations do you make for volume changes and bone spurs?” and “Are the majority of your patients wearing similar socket hardware, or does it vary—and why?” Another respondent asks: “Are your ideas more innovative, or more tried-and-true?”
- Seek experience and efficiency. One of actress and model Angel Giuffria’s go-to questions is: “How many people have you fit with the same limb presentation as me in the last year/month?” An anonymous commenter raises two service-oriented queries: “What’s the typical turnaround for a new prosthesis?” and “How fast can you make changes to my prosthesis if I need them?” And several people asked some version of this question: “Do you have any amputees on staff—someone who takes this work personally?”
One other useful suggestion: Attend the interview with a trusted companion who can take notes and assess your interaction with the prosthetist. An objective pair of eyes can’t hurt.