Artificial limbs for below-the-knees amputation

Starfox

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 7, 2011
256
8
Hi MacRumors!

A family member who lives overseas has unfortunately had to undergo a below-the-knee amputation and where they live, unfortunately, they can't find a good place to get a replacement limb. Money is not an issue in this case, as there's no shortage of that thankfully, but the expertise and parts are non-existent. Ideally, I'd like to have them come over to California and arrange for a replacement limb here, but I don't know where to start. Contacting the limb manufacturers directly went nowhere as they told me to talk to my doctor, but with my relative being overseas he has no primary care physician in the US. I'm aware of the high fees involved and my relative can and is willing to afford them - can someone tell me how to get things started in this case? Who to contact to handle such a thing? Thanks in advance!
 

A.Goldberg

macrumors 68020
Jan 31, 2015
2,326
7,638
Boston
In the United States I believe you need a prescription from an appropriate medical doctor sent to prosthetist who builds and fits the device. Such devices have to be custom made and fit.

First step would probably be to start looking into orthopedic docs who can make the referall. As your relative is international, insurance coverage would nothing-minimal out of network, out of country (especially when it comes to DME- durable medical equipment). I don't know what country your relative is in, but Europe is probably a more affordable option. America's healthcare tends to be a lot more expensive than other countries when you're paying cash.

Keep in mind that between the initial doctor's visit, prosthetist, limb construction, fitting, adjustments, etc this process usually takes weeks and does not occur until months post-surgery.

I'd recommend reaching out to an organization such as the Amputee Coalition for guidance and direction on navigating the steps and planning required in this process.

I personally have zero experience with this, but my mother is an orthopedic surgeon of 30+ years so I know there is a bit of a process to getting this work done.
 

rshrugged

macrumors 6502a
Oct 11, 2015
895
627
Here's a California LIST of residency programs from the National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education. You might find someone in your area for at least a means of acquiring more info.
 

A.Goldberg

macrumors 68020
Jan 31, 2015
2,326
7,638
Boston
If my time in PRSI has taught me anything, it's not to seek medical care in the U.S.
The US has great healthcare, we have some of the best practitioners and well equipped hospitals in the world. When it comes to adopting new drugs, we often tend to lag behind Europe- either out of cautiousness or politics. In terms of public healthcare, we're generally not very good.

The Us is however the most expensive, perhaps unneccessarrily depending on what you need. The two hospitals I work at are two of the best in the country/world and we get people from all over the globe. If you have a truly life threatening ailment (I.e. Cancer) we are one of the best places to be. If you have the money to blow and the desire to live, go for it.

But when it comes to prosthetics I'm not sure I'd waste the extra money coming to the US for treatment unless the cost of travel/rooming elsewhere is that great. If the patient can stay with his relative I the US while the device is fit- maybe then it's worth it. Otherwise, prosthetics are not a matter of life and death, and I'm confident other places can offer equal services and a much more reasonable cost.
 

Tomorrow

macrumors 604
Mar 2, 2008
7,115
1,246
Always a day away
The US has great healthcare, we have some of the best practitioners and well equipped hospitals in the world. When it comes to adopting new drugs, we often tend to lag behind Europe- either out of cautiousness or politics. In terms of public healthcare, we're generally not very good.

The Us is however the most expensive, perhaps unneccessarrily depending on what you need. The two hospitals I work at are two of the best in the country/world and we get people from all over the globe. If you have a truly life threatening ailment (I.e. Cancer) we are one of the best places to be. If you have the money to blow and the desire to live, go for it.

But when it comes to prosthetics I'm not sure I'd waste the extra money coming to the US for treatment unless the cost of travel/rooming elsewhere is that great. If the patient can stay with his relative I the US while the device is fit- maybe then it's worth it. Otherwise, prosthetics are not a matter of life and death, and I'm confident other places can offer equal services and a much more reasonable cost.
I was being satirical. :) Ever since I became an adult and started using private medicine for my healthcare (I grew up in a military family using government healthcare), I've been totally pleased with it.
 
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