Post Op Healing Prosthetic!

Postoperative prosthetic limbs can help speed recovery time, protect the wound from trauma, and reduce pain and swelling after amputation surgery. These types of prostheses are known as Immediate Post-Op Prostheses (IPOPs). They are applied in the operating room or in the early days following surgery. Without an IPOP, patients usually wait until the surgical wound heals before getting their first prosthesis. During the healing period, which can vary from three to 12 weeks, patients generally move about in a wheelchair or with crutches or a walker. The longer the waiting period, the greater the risk that patients may experience limb weakness, body deconditioning, joint stiffness, or injury to the residual limb from falling while trying to move about on one leg. By getting an IPOP, many patients can begin their rehabilitation sooner, more safely, and have less uncertainty about their future.

There are two basic types of IPOPs: hand-molded and prefabricated. With the first type, a prosthetic socket is hand-molded from plaster bandages. A foot and pylon may be attached, allowing for controlled partial weight bearing! These plaster sockets are nonadjustable and nonremovable. If the doctor needs to look at the residual limb, the plaster socket must be cut off and reapplied. In addition, the cast needs to be reconstructed at regular intervals as the patient’s limb changes.

A Removable Rigid Dressing (RRD) is another type of hand-molded socket made from plaster. It can be removed and adjusted by adding socks – but like the IPOP, it must be reconstructed as the patient’s limb changes. The RRD is, however, non-weight bearing.

Prefabricated IPOPs are made from plastic in standard sizes. They are adjustable as a patient’s limb changes and are easily removable. This allows the doctor and the rehab team to assess a patient’s progress on a daily basis and to temporarily discontinue the IPOP if complications develop. They are more expensive than the hand-molded IPOPs and patients with very long or irregularly shaped limbs will not fit into them.

As with all medical treatments, there are both benefits and risks of possible side effects with the use of IPOPs. Patients will have different results and experiences depending on their own personal and medical circumstances and the protocols of the medical center where they are treated. Research on outcomes with plastic IPOPs is now underway.

The benefits and risks discussed below are based on clinical experience, input from patients, and past research on handmade plaster IPOPs.

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