Q. What is a prosthesis?

A. A prosthesis is an artificial limb made to replace a limb that is missing due to illness, trauma or a birth defect. It is custom designed for each individual patient for optimum function. 

Q. What is an orthosis?

A. An orthosis is a brace used to stabilize a weak joint, limb or the spine. A brace may also be used to assist the motion of the limb.

Q. Will I need a physician’s prescription for your services?

A. Yes. A prescription tells us what your diagnosis is and alerts us to any other concerns that your doctor may have that will influence what we provide for you. It also opens the door for us to communicate with your doctor about any concerns or suggestions we may have. We are required to have a prescription on file before dispensing any of our devices. 

We are also required to obtain physician's notes from the face-to-face doctor's appointment at which you obtained your prescription. These records must contain detailed documentation regarding the medical need for the device, as well as a narrative description of what is prescribed and why it is required.

Q. Do I need to schedule up an appointment?

A. We do require an appointment for most office visits. However, if you have received a prescription from the Emergency Room, or if your doctor has given you a prescription that needs to be immediately filled, please visit our office and we will do our best to accommodate you. Fracture braces and spinal braces usually require immediate attention. 

Q. Does Northern Care do house calls or see patients in nursing homes?

A. Our full-service facility allows us to do our best work when you are present at our office. However, we do make exceptions. If a patient is a nursing home resident, we sometimes like to see him or her with their therapist in the nursing facility’s Physical Therapy Gym. We will also go to outpatient physical therapy appointments if your therapist thinks that you might be a candidate for our services. This way we can evaluate the patient with the therapist and make team-based decisions about his or her care. We also routinely fit patients in the hospital.

Q. Will my insurance pay for your services?

A. We welcome all insurances, but we cannot guarantee coverage or benefits for our services. Our administrative staff will investigate your insurance benefits and eligibility for you and give you a coverage estimate. We will also handle any authorizations and will bill your insurance direct.

Q. Are your practitioners medical doctors?

A. Both Doug Jack and Stan Gautier are Certified Prosthetist/Orthotists (CPO), certified by the American Board of Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics (ABC). They have both been in the field for about 25 years and regularly continue their education to stay current with the latest technology. 

Q. How long will it take for me to get my device?

A. This varies a great deal depending upon the device. We try our best to fit certain braces, such as custom TLSO “clamshell” spinal braces, within 24 hours, as these brace are often needed as soon as possible. Other devices, such as custom orthopedic shoes, will take up to 4 to 6 weeks to order in. 

Q. When I am fit with my device, will I need to follow a break in schedule?

A. Yes. Your practitioner will explain this wearing schedule at your delivery appointment. We will also give you written wear and care instructions at that time. This schedule will vary greatly depending on your abilities and the device with which you are fit. 

Q. Once I am fit with my device, will I be able to return to my normal activities?

A. Our goal for every patient is to help him or her return to a normal, functional lifestyle. The extent of your rehabilitation will depend on the extent of your injury or illness. We are very proud of our patents’ success stories (to read some of these stories, click here), many of whom have been able to resume prior activities and are able to live productive lives.

Q. Will it be painful to use my new limb or device?

A. Your device should never be painful. If you experience any kind of pain, please call immediately for an appointment.

Q. What if the device doesn’t fit right?

A. We work hard to ensure a perfect fit for each of our patients. It is not uncommon, however, for a fitting problem to become apparent once you start using your device for real life activities. This is why we schedule follow up appointments. At that time, we will address and resolve fitting issues.

Q. How long will I have to wear my device?

A. Please consult with your physician for specific instructions on how long you will need to wear the prescribed device. 

Q. Can I take a shower with my device on?

A. In most cases, it is not a good idea to wear your device in the shower. There are, however, important exceptions to this rule. TLSO “clamshell” spinal braces, for example, can get wet without being hurt and may be worn in the shower. Please refer to your doctor as to whether you need to wear your brace at all times. We do fabricate special water prosthesis for all kinds of water activities, including showering.

Q. How long after surgery will I get my prosthesis?

A. This is a question for your doctor to answer. Variables include how you lost your limb and how well you are healing. While you are healing, your doctor may order a protective device that fits over your residual limb (see Post-Op care). We cast and fabricate these protective devices specially to fit you. We will also provide you with sock-shaped compression garments called shrinkers to promote healing and reduce your limb’s swelling.

Q. How will my prosthesis stay on?

A. The suspension of your prosthesis, or how the prosthesis stays on your limb, is obviously very important. The most common suspension system is a roll-on liner that fits over the residual limb. At the end of the liner is a pin that engages with a lock inside the prosthesis. To put the prosthesis on, you put your liner on and then step into the prosthesis. Removing the prosthesis is as simple as pushing a button. This system’s simplicity and ease of use makes it very popular. We have numerous samples of other suspension methods in our gait lab that we will show at your evaluation appointment.
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