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    Frequently asked questions - Opcare Clinics

    These are some commonly asked questions which we hope will help you:

    What does Opcare do?
    We work with the NHS to provide patients with artificial limbs, orthotic devices and wheelchairs. Opcare is the largest provider of prosthetic services to the NHS in the UK, and also a major provider of orthotic services.  Our services involve the assessment, design, manufacture and fitting of both artificial limbs and orthotic devices. Opcare also provides posture and mobility services, including: wheelchair provision, specialist wheelchair seating and pressure-relieving cushions, along with associated services, such as the repair and maintenance of wheelchairs. We also provide the necessary life-long care that is required for the users of these services.

    There is a large team of people involved in the provision of these services. The NHS usually employ the doctors, nurses, occupational therapists and physios, and Opcare employs the prosthetists, orthotists, seating specialists, workshop and operations management, clinical support technicians, prosthetic technicians, stores people and sometimes the administrators.

    If I am a patient using NHS prosthetic, orthotic or wheelchair services, will Opcare be providing my services?

    Possibly! Ask in your centre if you are not sure. Our staff will have an Opcare logo on their uniform.

    Where do Opcare provide clinics?

    Opcare operates 28 centres with the NHS, offering services in 34 clinic locations throughout the UK.  You can find all our NHS clinics and details in our NHS Clinics pages. You can also use our Clinic Search box on the Home Page where you can search by postcode.

    What patient groups are there to support me?

    There are a number of charities in the UK that support patients. Click on one of the headers below to visit the site:

    The Douglas Bader Foundation
    The Douglas Bader Foundation was formed in 1982, in honour of Sir Douglas Bader by his family and friends – many of whom had flown side by side with Douglas during World War 2. Douglas was honoured in 1976 with a knighthood for his contribution and work on behalf of the disabled. The foundation’s mission is to continue Douglas’s work in conjunction with, and on behalf of, individuals with a disability.

    The Limbless Association
    The Limbless Association provides information, advice and support for people of all ages who are without one or more limbs. It has a nationwide network of volunteer visitors (within the UK) who are all amputees themselves, offering support and encouragement to prospective amputees, carers and those already trying to come to terms with limb loss or deficiency.

    Blesma is a National Charity, Registered Charity Number 1084189 for Limbless Ex-Service Men and Women, their dependants, and their families. The objectives of the Association are to promote the welfare of all those of either sex who have lost a limb or limbs, or one or both eyes, or the use of limbs as a result of service in any branch of Her Majesty’s Forces or Auxiliary Forces and to assist needy dependants of such service limbless.

    Steps gives support and information to empower everyone affected by all lower limb conditions. They don’t take walking for granted!

    Reach has a number of branches in various parts of the country which provide the opportunity for families to meet locally. Reach publishes a newsletter called ‘Within Reach’. This provides a regular means of communication to the families of all their members. The newsletters contain a wide range of information and articles on individual families experiences, new developments, details of branch activities, fundraising efforts, etc.

    What is the rehabilitation team?

    It is the entire team of specialists that will assist in your rehabilitation. At minimum it would consist of a Consultant or Doctor, Prosthetist or Orthotist, a Physiotherapist or Occupational Therapist (OT). Many other specialists might be included depending on your needs: a counsellor, a nurse or a representative from the hospital administration are just a few of the specialists who might be involved.

    Is wearing a prosthesis painful?

    We weren’t designed to wear artificial limbs so you can expect some discomfort, especially as you adapt to your prosthesis. However, it should not hurt or cause damage to you. Your prosthetist and physiotherapist will suggest a break-in schedule so that you can become accustomed to your prosthesis. If your prosthesis hurts, call your limb centre for an appointment.

    How soon after my amputation will I be able to walk?

    That depends on how quickly you heal. A healthy person with good circulation and no post-operative complications might be ready to use a prosthesis 4 or 5 weeks after surgery, although your rehabilitation with specialised physiotherapy will start sooner.

    When will I be ready to receive my definitive prosthesis?

    Your definitive prosthesis is prescribed as soon as possible, but your limb volume will take up to 18 months to stabilize, and so you may require new sockets in the intervening period. You may be given a more basic limb to begin with. This gives you the best opportunity to get active again. If you do well, you may find different components are included to aid your lifestyle. Another factor is how you have progressed in your gait training. Generally you are ready for a definitive prosthesis in the second year post amputation.

    I can still feel my toes/fingers even though my leg/arm has been amputated. Is this normal?

    Yes, it is. This is called phantom sensation, and most amputees experience it to some degree. If it is uncomfortable, speak to your physician about treatment options.

    What kind of shoes can I wear with my prosthesis?

    Almost any shoe can be used with your prosthesis, but for control and security it is best to have a shoe which encases the foot as much as possible – be sure to bring the shoes you wear most often when you are fitted for your limb. Most foot components work properly with shoes of only one heel height, though there are some prosthetic feet that provide adjustment so that shoes of different heel heights can be worn. Athletic type shoes are often recommended – they are light in weight and usually have soles that prevent slipping. It helps if your shoe has a flat profile across the sole.

    How will my prosthesis stay on?

    There are many different suspension methods – you should discuss the ones that suit your needs with your prosthetist or prescribing limb doctor. Some limbs are suspended using suction, sometimes assisted by a suspension sleeve. Suspension can be obtained from a pin mechanism attached to a roll-on liner, and some prostheses are attached using straps or extensions of the socket.

    How often should I see my prosthetist or orthotist after my device is delivered?

    This depends on you, your level of activity and the type of limb or orthosis you are wearing. Some components have specific maintenance requirements which will be discussed at the time of delivery.

    What is an orthotist?

    Orthotists provide a range of splints, braces and special footwear to aid movement, correct deformity and relieve discomfort. An orthotist is an Allied Healthcare Professional: they are educated to degree level, and form part of the rehabilitation team.

    What is an orthosis?

    The orthosis is what the orthotist has prescribed to help you with your medical problem. Orthoses used to be called appliances.

    What is a prosthetist?

    Prosthetists provide care for anyone requiring an artificial limb (prosthesis), and also advise on rehabilitation. They work alongside NHS health professionals to select the best possible prosthesis, and then supervise the assembly of the prostheses by the technicians.

    What is an occupational therapist?

    An occupational therapist assesses both mental and physical health and well-being in order to enable individuals to achieve their full potential. They help children and adults of all ages with mental, physical or social disabilities to independently carry out everyday tasks or occupations with more confidence and independence.

    How can I find out if I'm eligible for the NHS wheelchair service?

    You will need an initial referral from a healthcare professional such as GP, Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist, Nurse or Consultant. Where appropriate, a full assessment of physical, social and practical needs will be carried out by our trained specialists, who will help to clarify the client’s objectives and the options available.

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