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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Learn Your K-Levels

Today I will be recording another podcast with my friend Dave, also known as the Limb Blogger. Admittedly recording podcasts was not something I adored, but with time I have become more comfortable with the format. The fact that Dave and I are friends and comfortable chatting certainly makes the recordings less dreadful. 

We will be talking about K-Levels, a rating scale which impacts every prosthetic seeking amputee. Although insurance requires that we all abide by this system, I am shocked at how many amputees do not understand the rating scale. I have always felt that knowledge is power, so I want to take this post to explain the imperfect yet highly weighted K-Level system.

Keep in mind that all of this information can be found on the internet, but I have tried to provide a concise explanation. A word of caution, especially for my female friends, please be safe when conducting amputee-oriented searches online. There are a LOT of creeps out there, and you can easily become prey to their fetishes. I always utilize my Hotspot Shield VPN when searching online. I simply feel safer knowing that there is a shield between myself and those whom I like to keep at a distance.

The K-Level system was devised by Medicare as an attempt to classify prosthetic components. Patients are assigned a K-Level, which must be documented in the medical record by the primary doctor. The classification is used as a guideline when choosing prosthetic components (i.e. feet or knees). An amputee's K-Level is designed to be fluid, meaning that an individual may move through a variety of K-Levels throughout his life. K-Levels are a means to categorize the activities of the amputee in order to determine which components are most appropriate. 

Those with a K-O classification are not ambulatory. These amputees do not have the ability or the potential to walk. It is determined that a prosthetic will not enhance the independence or the life of these individuals.

K-1 amputees may benefit from a prosthetic to assist in transferring (such as from a wheelchair to a fixed chair). These individuals also have the potential to walk, albeit in a limited capacity, within their home or for short distances. Walking at various speeds and maneuvering around environmental obstacles is not deemed feasible.

K-2 amputees are considered community walkers. These individuals can accommodate for "low level" environmental obstacles including curbs, bumps and sidewalk cracks. They can walk for limited periods of time but cannot typically vary their walking speed.

If amputees have the ability to vary their speed and can traverse through a variety of environmental obstacles, they are considered to be a K-3. These individuals can walk through a variety of environments (grass, rocks, hills, sand etc.) without difficulty. The prosthetic is used for recreational and moderate exercise activities.

K-4 amputees rely upon their prosthetic to complete high impact activities such as running and jumping. Many children, active adults and athletes fall into this category.

The term "potential" was included in each K-Level description, providing the practitioner with a great deal of flexibility when assigning patient levels. With recent Medicare audits, prosthetists are becoming more deliberate when referring to a patient's K-level. It is important that every amputee talk with their physician about their K-level and be vigilant about getting the information documented in your medical records. Recent audits are keeping many amputees' prosthetic needs hostage because of inadequate documentation of the K-level.

1 comment:

  1. This is really interesting! My son had both of his feet amputated this summer, and we are just now getting to the point where we are moderately close to talking about prosthetic feet. I've never even heard of K-Levels (although, admittedly, there is a LOT for me to learn). Thank you for keeping this blog!