Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is a Prosthesis?

A. A prosthesis is an artificial limb that is used when one’s natural limb is either lost or absent. They are custom-designed for each individual based on the characteristics of their limb, their lifestyle and their goals.

Q. What is an orthosis?

A. An orthosis is a brace that stabilizes, immobilizes, corrects or protects any part of the body. By combining the use of both off-the-shelf and custom devices, a treatment can be found to address each person’s unique need.

Q. What is a Certified Prosthetist or Orthotist?

A. A Certified Prosthetist CP(C) or Orthotist CO(C) is a professional who has completed extensive training in assessing, designing, creating, fitting and evaluating the use of prosthetic and orthotic treatments. In order to become a Certified Prosthetist or Certified Orthotist, one must complete a post-graduate Prosthetics and Orthotics Program offered at either the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Burnaby, British Columbia or George Brown College in Toronto, Ontario. Following graduation, the individual must complete a minimum of 3450 hour residency and pass a series of comprehensive examinations before being designated as Certified. Once certified, they are the only clinicians in Canada with the training, knowledge and experience to provide these treatments.

Q. How do I choose a Certified Clinician or clinic to work with?

A. The relationship you develop with your Prosthetist or Orthotist will likely be a long-term one and it is important that you make this choice carefully. Prior to choosing a clinician to work with, it is highly recommended that you meet a few clinicians and choose the one that you feel most comfortable working with. As you may be seeing them frequently, choosing someone with a personality that you get along with well, someone who you feel comfortable talking with and someone with a convenient office location is important. It is also important that you choose someone who is Canadian Certified to ensure the best care. To find a list of clinicians near you, you can visit http://www.cbcpo.ca/find_member.php.

Q. Do I need a prescription?

A. Most funding agencies require that a prescription from your doctor be submitted before they will approve to cover the cost of your treatment. For small adjustments and repairs, a prescription is not always needed. If in doubt, please ask your Prosthetist or Orthotist or contact your family doctor. Your doctor can contact our office for clarification of prescription criteria.

Q. What should I bring to my appointment?

A. Please remember to bring your prescription and any details about your insurance company that may be needed to get funding for your treatment. If your concern is about your lower extremities (foot, knee, hip), please bring a pair of shorts and a comfortable pair of walking shoes. If your concern is about your upper extremities (elbow, shoulder, back), please bring a tank top to wear during your appointment.

Q. Who pays for this treatment?

A. For more information on available funding, please see the Funding page.

Q. How often should I see my Prosthetist or Orthotist?

A. To ensure your prosthesis or orthosis is fitting optimally and is safe to use, please see your Prosthetist or Orthotist if you notice any of the following:

  • Pain or discomfort in your limb
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • A change in your activity level
  • Damage or wear on any parts of your prosthesis or orthosis

Q. What is the warranty on prosthetic and orthotic devices from Pentland’s?

A. All custom made and most pre-fabricated orthoses are covered for reasonable repairs and adjustments for 60 days from the dispense date. (Example: If a pair of foot orthotics is dispensed on January 1, 2014, then most adjustments are covered up to March 1, 2014). Certain components and braces will have a manufacturer-set warranty period and Pentland’s will handle any warranty replacement that you require. Patients are always welcome back for adjustments beyond the “warranty period”, when they may be charged a fee.

Prostheses

Q. What will my prosthesis allow me to do?

A. In most cases, people who lose a part of their lower limb will be able to return to a similar level of activity they enjoyed prior to the loss of their limb. Successful outcomes depend on the level of limb loss, the condition of their limb, the time they are able to put into rehabilitation, and their attitude. For people who have lost a part of their upper limb, the prosthesis can greatly enhance grasping during single and bimanual activities. For more information on your specific situation, please talk to your Prosthetist.

Q. How long will my prosthesis last?

A. The life of your prosthesis can vary greatly, depending on your age, activity level, weight gain or loss and other factors. During the first 6 – 12 months after the loss of your limb, remaining tissue will likely experience shrinking and swelling. During this time, your prosthesis will likely require replacement in order to maintain an intimate fit with your limb. After the volume and shape of your limb has stabilized, on average your prosthesis should last approximately 3 years, depending on your activity level. For children who are growing rapidly and extremely active, a prosthesis may only last for 6 – 12 months.

Q. Can I drive with a prosthesis?

A. Yes, it is likely that you will be able to drive with your prosthesis, given that you were able to drive before your amputation. Your Physiatrist (with input from the rest of your rehabilitation team) is responsible for determining whether modifications are needed to your vehicle and if you are required to take another driving test. Regardless of whether modifications or additional training are required, when you renew your licence you will be required to disclose that you are missing a limb.

Q. Can I swim or shower with a prosthesis?

A. Normally prostheses are not intended to get submerged in water. However, we make specialized water prostheses for those wanting to take a shower, walk along the beach, swim or even scuba dive with their prosthesis. For more information on how we can make a water prosthesis to fit your needs, talk to your Prosthetist.

Q. Can I run or do high impact sports with my prosthesis?

A. There is no limit on which sports people with limb loss or absence can excel in. We have many clients who ski, run, swim, bike, and play hockey in addition to many other activities. However, your physical condition, as well as the specific componentry included in your prosthesis, will greatly impact the ease of which you can do these activities. Some feet, knees and other components are specially designed for running while others are less suited for these high levels of impact. For those with upper extremity limb loss, there are a variety of terminal devices suited for each individual sport (examples can be found here http://www.trsprosthetics.com/shop-category/sports/). Typically, if someone is interested in a high impact sport, they will get a second prosthesis that is dedicated to that activity so that the components in it can be specially chosen for that activity. For more information, please talk to your Prosthetist.

Foot Wear

Q. Does Pentland’s make custom footwear?

A. Yes, Pentland’s can provide patients with custom footwear. Custom footwear is sometimes required for individuals who cannot wear conventional shoes due to foot shape deformity, sever edema, and/or traumatic injury. We also have the ability to adjust or modify existing footwear to meet the needs of our clients.

Knee Bracing

Q. Do I need a referral to get a knee brace from Pentland’s?

A. No referral is required to see a trained specialist at our clinics. However, having a prescription is recommended and can expedite the application process for funding assistance or for getting re-imbursement from your extended health care plan.

Q. How much does a knee brace cost?

A. Depending on your lifestyle, limb shape and the severity of knee injury or symptoms, you may be prescribed/recommended a certain type of knee brace. After an assessment with our Orthotist, we will help to find the best knee brace option for you, your lifestyle and your budget. Because of the vast selection of braces, prices can range from $50.00 to $2000.00 (Prices are subject to change). The total amount that you will be quoted will include your assessment, consultation, casting/measuring appointment, fitting appointment, any necessary follow-up appointments (within 60 days) and taxes.

Q. What is the difference between Custom Made Knee Braces and Off-the-Shelf (pre-fabricated) knee braces?

A. A Custom Made knee brace is one that is made specifically for you. It intimately fits your anatomy, allowing for optimal control and comfort around the knee joint. This brace will work with your lifestyle (ex. sport related), and you have the option to choose from several different colours. A measurement of your leg or a cast is taken to have the brace manufactured.

An Off-the-Shelf (or pre-fabricated) knee brace has been manufactured to fit the majority of the population, and normally comes in standard sizes (i.e. small, medium, and large). Your Orthotist will take measurements of your leg in the assessment to help you decide what style and size is most appropriate for your needs.

Q. Does my extended health over the cost of a knee brace?

A. Most insurance companies will cover a portion or the full amount of a knee brace. It depends on your insurance plan and your coverage. We can provide you with a quote to take to your insurer to see if they will cover any of the expense based on your coverage. Please see the Funding page for more information.

Q. Do I wear my knee brace on or over my clothing?

A. Ideally, a knee brace is designed to be worn directly on the skin (the medical grade padding and straps are safe to be in contact with the skin). In addition, the brace will suspend (or stay in place) better if placed directly on the skin. However, if skin irritation does occur, a knee sleeve or legging may be used to reduce this irritation.

Q. How often do I need to wear my knee brace?

A. The frequency and duration of brace wear time is different for each individual. Wear time will be determined by your health care team (or a member of this team) (e.g. prescribing physician, physiatrist, orthotist, and physiotherapist). Typically, we recommend a short break-in period with 1-2 hour wear times for the first week so that you can adjust to the brace and its corrective forces.