Every appointment you make with your prosthetist or orthotist has a chance to increase your mobility, reduce pain and discomfort, and improve your life. But how you spend that time could determine how effective your visit is.
Each visit with a clinician only lasts so long, so you want to ensure that you are doing everything that you can to advocate for yourself and ensure you live up to your potential. That is why asking the right questions can make a world of difference.
Some clinicians, like our highly trained team at Bionic, will give you answers to many or all of these questions without needing to be asked. However, you should know what needs to be discussed no matter where you receive your O&P care. Choosing the right practice and clinician will go a long way, but it pays to be informed.
But what are the right questions? Everyone from recent amputees to experienced prosthesis/orthosis users can feel confused about how to approach tough topics or how to get the most out of their visit.
This guide will help you remember important questions to ask your clinician, which can save you time, money, discomfort, and frustration.
1. How much experience do you have working with patients with my type of amputation or mobility needs?
Every Certified/Licensed Clinician will have experience and training to help them meet your needs, but not all clinicians are equal in every area. Training and firsthand experience are not the same, and every clinician will have done more work with some types of prostheses and orthoses than others.
This question will help you gauge how ready your clinician might be to take on your unique case and help provide you with the best outcome that you can achieve.
2. Do you utilize the most up-to-date and advanced technology available for my needs?
The O&P industry has seen a wealth of technological progress in the last decade, with devices like 3D printers and myoelectric limbs leading the charge into what would have once been called science fiction.
Bionic is focused on using evidence-based practices to drive our clinical care. We embrace the best tech available for your unique needs. Don't settle, and don't be afraid to ask what might be possible in restoring your mobility and capabilities.
3. Do you have any connections to local amputee support groups you can share with me?
Amputee life can be difficult, and everyone can use the support of a friendly community that understands what you're going through. Amputee support groups across the nation will welcome you and help you adjust and move forward with care and understanding. Many clinicians know who to reach out to for a group in their area and will be happy to provide it. Some might even have brochures or materials on hand to give you.
Clinicians may also have connections to national groups that advocate for, or provide support to, the limb loss and limb difference community in a way that you could benefit from.
The importance of social support and encouragement cannot be overstated for the limb loss community. Bionic hosts, and has partnered with, local support groups to help create an environment of compassionate care that is centered around our patients' needs.
4. Do you work with any local therapists or therapy groups on training for optimal success?
Amputee Support Groups are not the only kind of assistance that you might have available. Many clinicians have formed relationships with physical therapists and groups that will work with you to speed your recovery, and your clinician might be able to refer you with the right question.
Bionic is proud to have strong connections with physical therapists who have experience working with the unique needs of the limb loss/limb difference community.
5. What are my options for the fit or style of my prosthesis or orthosis? What are my options regarding my type of device? What are the pros and cons of each type?
Everyone's individual needs are different. This extends from the level of performance or mobility that you need to differences in design or style.
Earlier this year, our team from Cincinnati rose to the challenge of working with a new technique to create a style of device in-house that better fit a patient's needs, and the idea started with a question from the patient's mom. Clinicians aren't psychic - no matter how much they know about their field they may need your input to arrive at the best outcome.
This advice can apply just as much to the aesthetic or design of your device as to its function, and it shows the value of starting a conversation about your needs and wants with your clinician early.
6. Who do I call if I have an issue with my device?
In a similar vein, ensure that you know who to contact if your device begins to have problems or breaks. You will want to be able to take steps to remedy the situation quickly and easily, so knowing in advance who to reach out to and how to contact them will save you time and stress down the road.
Bionic's commitment to patient care means that our patients feel empowered to contact their clinicians day or night for everything from assistance to opportunities to celebrate successes together.
7. How often should I follow up with my clinician?
You won’t want to wait until your prosthetic or orthotic device is broken or causing severe pain to check in with your prosthetist. Establishing a clear timeline for next steps will help you to know when to connect with your clinician to make sure that everything is going the way it should.
Meaningful patient care that meets your needs doesn't end after you get your device. You deserve a team that will continue to work with you and care about your outcome far into the future. At Bionic, we love being a reliable part of each patient's journey.
8. Will you accept my insurance, and are any devices excluded from my coverage? Is there a difference between what my insurance pays and what you charge, and will I be responsible for covering the difference?
You will always want to know up-front that the O&P practice you will visit is in-network with your insurance provider. Their specific policies, and the fine print within your coverage, might affect which options you have available and what they cost. Don’t get stuck paying out of pocket - make sure you ask first.
9. Did I ask everything that I needed to in order to maximize my outcome?
The final question is for you - did you remember to ask everything that you needed to ask? Is there anything else you might like to know? Do you feel comfortable moving forward from this point with the information you have, or is something still missing?
Advocate For Your Own Care
Your clinician is here to help you, but there are also things that you can do to help yourself.
With the right questions in mind, you will be ready to set your course toward a happier and healthier future. These questions can also help you discern the right clinician or clinic to meet your needs and help you to advocate for yourself and your needs. In order to make a wise decision, you need all the information you can gather.
If you would like to take some of the guesswork out of your visit, try booking a free consultation with one of Bionic Prosthetics & Orthotics’ many clinics across the US! Our clinicians take the initiative to make space for you and to answer any and all your questions.
When it comes to your mobility and comfort, the only remaining question is:
“Am I doing everything I can to advocate for my own care?”