Many of you followed our Facebook posts in disbelief as we fought to get medical approval from our insurance companies to pay for a new leg for Peter. The leg was approved after a four-month struggle and now people are asking us things like “how’s Peter’s new leg?” “Can Peter walk better now?” Well truth be told it’s a little complicated you can’t simply buy one off the rack.
Currently, we’re in the final phase of having the new leg built and fitted. I thought I’d share some photos with you to help you understand the prosthetic and the fitting process. It starts with a cast of the stump or residual leg. The cast is used to make a mold and the mold in turn becomes a test socket.
We traveled to Lawall Prosthetics on Tuesday for the first glimpse of his new leg and microprocessor knee. In the above photo Peter is wearing a silicone sock over his stump. It may appear flesh color to you. This sock was also custom made to ensure a good fit, via a cast process, and a sock that wouldn’t slip. In some of the pictures you maybe able to see a band of clear seals around the sock. The clear portion on top of the leg is called a test socket. It’s clear so that the prosthetist can see through it be sure the silicone sock makes contact on all sides and that his leg is all the way down inside the socket.
This picture shows a good fit – the silicone sock fits his leg well, the seals are sprayed with alcohol so the sock can slide into the test socket. The alcohol quickly dissipates creating a seal. The suspension of this leg is a vacuum suspension. Notice the round white knob that protrudes out of the lower part of the test socket? When Peter slides into the socket he presses that button and it displaces the air that gets trapped inside thus allowing a vacuum seal and his leg to fully rest inside
The flag draped knee, which is seen in the center of the leg, is a microprocessor. An app on the laptop computer allows the knee to be programmed. It will respond to Peter’s gait and it has the ability to bend and straighten electronically instead of mechanically. Mechanical knees take more energy to use. It will need to be charged at night just like your cell phone and it comes with a car charger.
A size 11 foot has been added to the bottom to allow for a matched fit in his shoes and safer walking. Now that the test socket is a "go" they will use the same mold to make a socket that is stronger. When we return for the next fitting they will make adjustments to the final socket and work to program and fine-tune the knee. We hope that he'll bring it home in the next week or two. I hope that this is helpful; I'm sure I left a thing or two out but I'm a mom not a prosthetisit