Choose A Practitioner Who Meets Your Needs

The success and progress of your rehabilitation depends on the skill, knowledge, and caring of your orthotist or prosthetist. BOC understands this and offers this guide to choosing your practitioner. We would prefer that your choice be from among our membership of experienced professionals. But ultimately and of utmost importance, the orthotist or prosthetist you eventually choose must meet your needs.

Before you begin your search for a practitioner, you must first determine your goals and expectations:

  • Are there activities you expect to be able to perform after the prosthesis/orthesis is complete?

  • Are there activities you believe you must be able to perform after the prosthesis/orthesis is complete?

  • Do you need to find a surgeon? (prosthesis only)

  • Will you need a physical therapist?

  • What financial support do you have?

  • Is there a support group in the area that can help you?

These are some of the basic concerns you should consider before beginning your search, and you no doubt will have more. Keep in mind that who you eventually select should be aware of these concerns and work with you to achieve your desired results.


Proper Care Requires A Team Leader - You

Your goals and expectations are as crucial to your rehabilitation as a correctly prescribed, fabricated, and fitted orthotic or prosthetic device. In fact, you are the most important member of your rehabilitation team. As such, you should assemble a rehabilitation team that best suits your needs. That means choosing every member possible - the surgeon, the prosthetist or orthotist, the physical therapist, and any other member or organization involved in your rehabilitation.

Not everyone has the opportunity to assemble his or her rehabilitation team ahead of time, before surgery. But if you do, the first step you should take is to select a qualified prosthetist. You will find that many surgeons know nothing about prosthetics, and that a prosthetist or orthotist will be the most important member of your team, besides you of course.


Your Orthotist Or Prosthetist Is A Valued Member

A skilled and qualified practitioner will be able to advise your surgeon about the proper level of amputation that would best suit the fitting of a prosthesis. This expertise is important because it will eliminate many fitting problems in the future and is an area of knowledge many surgeons do not have.

Choose your prosthetist carefully. He or she will determine your abilities and comfort with your prosthesis. You want to choose a professional who will include you in the process of designing and fabricating a limb, one who listens to your needs and concerns, and one who will work within your financial parameters. Talk to a number of practitioners until you find one you are comfortable with.

Once you have chosen a prosthetist, talk to your surgeon and request that your O&P professional be included in all surgical decisions. Your rehabilitation will be that much more successful if the practitioner is made part of the team early in the process.


When You Cannot Build A Team Before Surgery

Building the proper rehabilitation team is no less important if it is begun after surgery. You should still consider yourself the team leader and build your team accordingly. In most cases, your surgeon or hospital staff will refer you to a prosthetist. The referral is not necessarily a recommendation. Instead, it may be offered because the surgeon is familiar with a particular practitioner. Do not feel you have to accept this referral (unless of course it is the only practitioner your insurance will accept). Instead, choose a professional who understands your needs, goals, and expectations.


What To Ask The Prospective Professional

You will have many questions pertinent to your situation. When searching for your healthcare professional, keep in mind these important points, and ask the practitioner to be honest with you.

  • Determine if the practitioner is willing to discuss your concerns.

  • Will he or she include you in the rehab process?

  • Will he or she explain every component and everything you do not understand?

  • Is the practitioner willing to work with a surgeon? A physical therapist?

  • Ask the practitioner if you will be able to perform the activities you want to do. And the activities you must do.

  • Will your prospect discuss options for you? Are there compromises? New components or experimental components that can meet your needs?

  • Will the practitioner go out of his or her way to ensure the most function and comfort possible?

  • Will he or she try new "opportunities" without charging you to determine the best fit possible?

  • Will you be required to sign a release? If so, when? After, or before the prosthesis is complete?

  • What kind of after-purchase support does the practitioner provide?

  • Does the practitioner accept your form of payment?

  • Is the practitioner willing to accept your financial provider's payment as payment in full?

  • Ask to talk to current customers with the same level of amputation as yours. Is the practitioner willing to provide you with those references?

  • These questions are just a beginning. Use them to help determine which practitioner will best assist you.