Advocating for Yourself When You Need an Upper Limb Prosthesis

by Amber Henson, on Sep 20, 2022

906A0068 (1)

Anecdotally, we have heard that it is easier to obtain a lower limb prosthesis than an upper limb prosthesis. The “logic” behind this is that you need both legs/feet to walk and get around, but you don’t need a hand to walk. That may be true, but daily activities are quite difficult, and sometimes impossible, without both upper limbs and all ten digits. We have found that patients who do their best to communicate consistently with their insurance company have a better chance of getting their prosthetic care authorized. It may not be easy. But fear not! Arm Dynamics and our whole team of clinical specialists and support staff are here for you.

Getting a prosthesis usually involves your insurance provider, unless you plan on paying for the prosthetic care yourself, which is always an option. Insurance companies are not something we expect our patients to be experts on, which is why we have our Justification, Authorization and Billing Team to advocate on your behalf. But, there’s one catch ... we can’t advocate without your help! Even if the insurance carrier issues a denial, which happens often, then we have lots of advice about how to help overturn that denial.

So your device is approved and you’re at one of our centers for your prosthetic fitting and training. You also must speak up here! Just like at the doctor’s office, communication is key. When we are fitting your device, we want to hear exactly what you think of it. Never be afraid of hurting your prosthetist or your clinical therapy specialist’s feelings their goal is to help you! Does your prosthesis feel right, does it feel comfortable? While there may be some things you need time to get used to with your prosthetic device, always bring up to your clinical team anything that's bothering you. They can let you know what’s normal and what isn’t and if it isn’t normal, they can fix it. Your prosthetist can work out issues with the programming (for a myoelectric device) or fix issues with the harness (on a body-powered device). Your clinical therapy specialist will spend the time necessary helping you learn how to comfortably use your prosthesis to do all the things you want to do with it.

If you’re back home and something isn’t perfect, don’t be shy. It’s especially important to give us a call. If you don’t live near a center, we may be able to resolve the problem on a video chat or ask you to send us the prosthesis for a quick adjustment.

Our patient Gerry Kinney, has some great advice about how your device is supposed to feel and speaking with your prosthetic team:

Gerry KinneyI tell everybody that how the socket fits is the key. And do not be afraid to tell your prosthetist and therapist when something feels a little off, even if you think it’s just super minor, because they can tweak that stuff. Like when you get home and start doing different things with your prosthesis and maybe there's a place where it feels a little loose or it rubs. I don’t have a problem of telling them about it because that is what they want to know. They can’t make it better for you if you don't let them know.

The patients that have the most success are the ones that stand up for themselves throughout the entire process. But you don’t have to stand up alone! Our different teams are always there to support you. Your prosthetic success is what we wake up to work toward every day.

Would you like to learn more about how we can help you obtain a comfortable and functional prosthesis? Please contact us. Or if you’ve been through the process and have any suggestions for your peers, please leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!

Topics:Advice After an AmputationHealth InsuranceArm Dynamics TeamGetting a Prosthetic DeviceInsurance DenialsDeciding Where to Receive Prosthetic Care

About the Upper Limb Library

Arm Dynamics is the most experienced upper limb prosthetic care provider in the world. Our Upper Limb Library is our community space for articles for and by those with an upper limb difference. Read on to learn all about issues that affect those who have had an amputation, and be sure to leave a comment letting us know what topic you’d like to know more about!

More...

Subscribe to Updates