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Tips for Transitioning Your Child to a Prosthetic

The shock of learning that your child will need a prosthesis is hard on the whole family. Whether it was a condition beginning at birth, an illness, or an injury, nothing prepares a parent for the news. But your child has a bright future ahead of them — one that can be greatly enhanced by a custom-made prosthesis. 

Our experienced team of orthopedic specialists at Ortho Engineering Inc. helps countless kids throughout Southern California develop physically and socially right along with their friends and classmates by designing tailor-made pediatric prostheses that grow with them. If this is your child’s first encounter with a prosthetic limb, they can use all the support you can give them. Here’s how to help your child transition to their new normal.

Prosthesis for infants

If your baby is born with a partial or missing limb, you have a choice: prosthesis or no prosthesis. You may think that because your infant can’t walk, crawl, or use their hands yet, there’s no reason to give them a prosthesis at this time. But we’ve found that fitting children for a passive prosthetic limb early can significantly increase their acceptance of and transition into full-time, dynamic prosthetics later on.

Of course, we strongly believe that each child is unique, and we approach every case with a fresh perspective. We monitor your baby’s development and determine the best time to introduce the first prosthesis. Studies show that some infants with a unilateral below-elbow limb deficiency are ready as early as two months old. If a leg prosthesis is needed, we usually wait until your child can stand on their own before the first fitting.

Routine rules

Children thrive when they know what to expect, so a regular routine is incredibly helpful in your child’s prosthesis journey. In whatever way is age-appropriate, tell your child what has happened and what is coming. The truth is far less scary than the unknown, and it’s been our experience that children are incredibly resilient and adaptable. 

You’ll both be making many trips to and from our offices for many years as they grow and need new sockets and other modifications, so let them know up front what to expect. 

Of course, infants don’t need this information, but it’s very useful to older children and teens as they begin to fill their own calendars with social, academic, and extracurricular events. Toddlers may need to come see us every six months, and adolescents and older teens may only need adjustments once a year, but constant monitoring is important.

Teach them to take of their prosthesis

Giving your child some control of their prosthesis helps to make it feel more like a part of their own body rather than something you’re making them wear. As soon as they’re capable, include them in the basic care of their limb and their prosthesis. Here are some general guidelines:

Limb care

Prosthesis care

Giving your child age-appropriate responsibility helps them come to terms with their condition and empowers them to thrive with their prosthesis.

Keep communications open

Every kid is different, and they’ll have questions and concerns that are as unique as they are themselves. Your child may be concerned about bullying, dating, or other social hardships. They might be more concerned about not being able to participate in certain activities, such as sports or music lessons.

But chances are, we can design a prosthesis that will allow your child to participate in just about any activity they can dream of. We can create prosthetic arms and legs that are specific to a certain sport or skill like running, swimming, climbing, or golfing.

So, listen to your child carefully and find out what concerns they have, stay positive and encouraging, and let us know how we can help. We’re all in this together.

If your child needs a prosthesis, call us at any one of our nine locations throughout Southern California to set up a consultation. We’re here to make the transition to a prosthesis a positive experience for your whole family.

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