There are hundreds of prosthetic components on the market, and each device touts a unique feature to distinguish it from the competition. The available choices can be both empowering and frustrating as you try to whittle down all the options to decide the correct prosthetic for your situation. The pressure of choosing the right prosthetic can be downright overwhelming!
New amputees often ask me if they have a role in the prosthetic decision process. My answer is a resounding yes. A prosthetist is there to build the device and to guide the amputee through the decision process. Although his or her expertise is needed and should be weighed, the ultimate choice lies with the amputee. After all, we are the ones who will be wearing the prosthetic and relying upon it everyday.
I never appreciated the value in trying various prosthetics until a few years ago. I had a foot, and I was walking. I attributed my achy back, reluctance to walk distances, and mental fatigue simply to being an amputee. I didn't know that I was settling and that my walking experience could be better. Thankfully Elliot (my prosthetist) recognized my struggles when I did not and encouraged me to try different feet.
That trial experience in Elliot's office changed everything. I switched prosthetics to the Proprio foot, and I now walk without constantly analyzing and thinking about every step. (If you've been reading my blog for any length of time you already know how this device has positively affected my life.) That being said, I will continue to try new devices as they hit the market because I don't want to become complacent.
The best way to make a decision on what type of foot you want is by trying it. After all, most don't buy shoes or jeans without first trying them on. Why would I make a decision about something as important as what foot I want without giving it a test walk? You won't truly get an understanding for how the foot or knee feels and how it responds without trying it.
I have never had a prosthetic manufacturer tell me that I cannot try the product. Although it takes more time and is more work for Elliot, he has never denied me the opportunity to try a foot that has piqued my interest. He is a patient man because I have tried a lot of different feet!
Prosthetics are expensive investments. If you ask to try something and are told no, push for an explanation. If you still want to give a device a test walk and your practitioner won't accommodate your request, consider going to another prosthetist. You deserve the right to choose your own prosthetic. After all, you are going to be the one using it on a daily basis.
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