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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS

Prosthetics

Phil MyersOur prosthetics team offers a comprehensive service for all patients who have absent limbs (whole or part) and need a prosthesis.

Patients may have a limb part missing for many reasons. The commonest is vascular disease (poor circulation), and the majority of patients seen have diseases such as diabetes.

What is a prosthesis?

A prosthesis is a device that replaces an absent body part. Some protheses are internal, for example a replacement heart valve or a replacement knee.

The prostheses used by our Prosthetics Department are external and replace limbs that are missing due to injury or amputation.

Some patients are seen before amputation to discuss the best surgical approach but most are first seen after amputation, usually at about 4-6 weeks once the wounds have healed well.

The service is primarily run on an outpatient/day patient basis, but patients with very complex problems can be admitted if necessary.

Once a patient has a prosthesis they may return at any time if problems arise with or in relation to the prosthesis. Usually these problems are managed and resolved by the prosthetists.

The service also covers other problems arising from amputation. The commonest single problem is pain felt in the amputated limb, so-called ‘phantom pain’. Other problems include breakdown of the wound, emotional distress and practical problems with daily activities.

The prosthetics service liaises closely with many other people including primary care teams, specialist pain clinics, local physiotherapy services, surgeons and social services.