Funding and prosthetics
By Jackie O’Conner BPO (Bachelor Prosthetics Orthotics with Hons) - MAOPA Policy and Advocacy Manager (AOPA).
When was the last time you thought about what else you need and what you would like to do in life but are having trouble doing it? You probably think about this a lot when things are not working out the way you planned.
Chances are it’s annoying you. So, let’s pose the question “when was the last time you discussed the things you want to do with your Prosthetist and asked if they could help you to achieve these things?”
As a Prosthetist, I often found that my clients didn’t always discuss what they wanted to achieve. Having goals doesn’t mean that they have to be visions of grandeur - it could be basic things such as wanting to be able to shower more easily when you’re away from home or having the ability to stand up in your own shower. This may not have been something that you thought about, or even thought was necessary, in the early stages after your amputation but it might be something that you would like now.
Have you tried to do something like riding your bike on your current prosthesis? You might be finding it difficult because you are trying to hold on with one arm or you can’t bend your knee enough because your socket is causing you pain. Does not being able to do these things make you question if it is possible? Maybe you feel defeated. Perhaps that makes you think “maybe I can’t do this activity anymore?” rather than asking your Prosthetist if something can be done (to your prosthesis) to make it easier and/or pain free.
There might be things your Prosthetist can help you with that you didn’t realise. Perhaps technology has changed and now there are solutions available that didn’t exist before.
Discussing your needs with your Prosthetist People’s bodies and lifestyles change over time, as does prosthetic technology and funding. So, it’s a good idea to make sure you talk with your Prosthetist about what you need and to ensure you are up-to-date with any changes in technology or funding.
When meeting with your Prosthetist it’s also a good idea to discuss your current prosthesis and what you do or don’t like about it, as well as talk about other options that would better suit you and your lifestyle.
When talking to your Prosthetist about your current prosthesis think about what you already know, which may include:
When speaking with your Prosthetist ensure that you talk about yourself more broadly, which may include:
Before meeting with your Prosthetist also think about the activities you need to undertake or would like to be able to do in the future. It is a good idea to discuss these during your appointment as this will help to guide the decisions you can make with your Prosthetist. Such activities may include:
When speaking with your Prosthetist discuss changes to prosthetic parts, funding and emerging technology. While this information might not be relevant to you at the time, it may be of use down the track. You may want to:
In order for you to make decisions and get the best outcomes:
Sometimes there are specific things that you might be worried about discussing for fear of offending your Prosthetist in some way. You should know that all health practitioners are required to be approachable about anything that you need to discuss and a good Prosthetist won’t be upset if you ask questions. Most likely he or she will enjoy the opportunity to work with someone who is motivated to get the most out of their prosthesis.
A Prosthetist’s skill is being able to discuss whether a component is suitable for you, and if not why not. A Prosthetist should also be able to assess and discuss whether the benefits listed in an advertising brochure are things that you will be able to take advantage of. Ask your Prosthetist as many questions as you need so that you can understand.
Some scenarios and ways of approaching each with a Prosthetist are provided below:
Mr Smith has been to see his Prosthetist for a similar problem every fortnight for the past three months. He really likes his Prosthetist who always sees him quickly and tries his best to help Mr Smith, but it’s starting to feel like things are not going anywhere. Mr Smith is getting tired of needing so many appointments. It would be a good idea and very appropriate for Mr Smith to ask any of these questions:
Miss Jones has been wearing the same knee 21 and foot componentry on her prosthesis for 10 years. Miss Jones likes her prosthesis and is comfortable with it, but it’s not perfect. Miss Jones is starting to think that in the past 10 years things must have changed so maybe there is something new that would be better for her. Miss Jones sits down and thinks about the specific limitations (things she doesn’t like and can’t do) with her current prosthesis and starts researching new prosthetic knees on the internet. Miss Jones finds some prosthetic devices that she thinks might be good for her. Miss Jones’ next step should be to go to her Prosthetist and discuss the following:
Mrs Andrews has never had a prosthesis before and didn’t realise what would be involved. She is feeling uncomfortable about seeing her male Prosthetist, due to cultural and gender issues. Mrs Andrews doesn’t know any of the other Prosthetists in the clinic and is wondering if there might be someone more appropriate for her to see. Mrs Andrews should feel comfortable to ask:
Talking to others if you can’t talk to your Prosthetist.
If you ever feel that your Prosthetist has said something inappropriate, makes you feel uncomfortable or unhappy, or you don’t feel that you can talk about something important related to your care you should consider who else you can talk to. It is important to raise concerns you have because speaking up can help prevent it from happening again, either to you or to someone else.
Should this ever happen you should consider:
You can check at www. opa.org.au/findapractitioner. If your Prosthetist is an AOPA member, and you feel it is appropriate, you can make a complaint through AOPA. This will mean that AOPA will investigate whether the Prosthetist is practicing at the standard expected in Australia.