UPDATE: The following is something I was NOT aware of and just learned today, the 29th of August, a few days after originally posting this blog entry…
I would like to offer some information that may help you and your situation.
Most prosthetic feet do not have an “ankle” attachment. This is because of several reasons. To begin with, a separate ankle component would increase weight and build height of the foot, which would limit the people who could use it to people with very short residual limbs. (By the look of your prosthesis, this may not be an issue). The weight difference would be very noticeable however, as it would be at the end of the prosthesis.
Another big issue, is that providing ankle motion would take some of the energy storing properties away from the foot, causing the user to use more energy for each step. There is only one foot that has active plantar flexion (toes pushing down), and it is a microprocessor controlled foot that is quite heavy and expensive. Other than the one, there are no feet that walk like your real foot. The feet that are available on the market are chosen based upon the evaluation, and this evaluation is supposed to take into account your “Expected” activity level after you get the correct prosthesis.
Most of the feet that are available today do have some flexibility, but it is usually at the heel (to absorb impact when walking) and at the forefoot (For energy return) under your body weight. The feet do not flex at the ankle location, instead, they flex under your weight and return to neutral when offloaded (Providing a little push because of the loaded spring). If the foot were to flex at the ankle, it would feel like stepping into a hole each step, because there would be no resistance or lift from the toes. (I have experienced this).
I have not seen any feet that work like your natural feet yet, and have been a prosthetic technician for over 8 years.
As far as having a prosthesis like a world class athlete, do you think you would be physically fit enough to control a prosthesis built for running and Jumping? These are built for specific activities such as sprinting, running, or jumping, and do not have a heel. they are not made or used for everyday activities such as walking or working. There are some options that provide a blend of both that work well, but only if you have really good balance and stability.
Another consideration is that Insurance companies do not pay for these high activity K-4 prosthetics. These are paid for by the patient or a sponsor for the event they are entering with the specialized prosthesis. I personally believe this is unfair, but have no control over this.
One of the things I learned quickly, was that most of the people you see on TV or in advertisements are not the average patients. These people were chosen because they are exceptional for one reason or another.
The average prosthetic foot is engineered to provide a lifelike feel during normal gait (Walking). The foot does not flex as much as your natural foot so that you have the feeling of Toe Off, instead of like you have stepped into a hole. The motion is inside the footshell, and that is why you don’t notice it. If you can make the foot flex by hand when you are not wearing it, it is not the correct weight and activity category for your body weight. It should take effort while pushing into the toe with the heel off the ground, and return to neutral before removing all of your weight. this is the energy storing feature of the foot.
I know I have written a lot here, and hope this helps you to understand how these feet are supposed to work. If you have any questions, please reach out to me! I have been an amputee since August of 2002, and have worked in the prosthetic field since 2005. I have tried almost every style of foot that is out there, and can provide feedback on each one if you like.
Now on to my original blog post……..
I am once again pissed about my prosthetic. WHY?? Because I continue to see things on instagram, Facebook and other places that cater to us amputees, shouting the progress and accomplishments of other amputees who happen to be doing things I want to do, but I am limited by what I can do right now because I’m NOT a world class runner, soccer player, wind surfer, rock climber (Wall or Real Rock), ballet dancer or actor.
My goals since becoming an amputee are just as important to me as the amputees listed above, if not more so. I don’t get to progress as those amputees listed above because I am not the athlete they are….BUT MY GOALS FOR LIVING ARE JUST AS VITALLY IMPORTANT TO ME.
I’m stuck with this foot, with no ankle joint or flexible foot because I was tested on this antiquated Amputee mobility predictor (AMP) or K test. I was K tested using my hospital issued walker 3 months after my amputation surgery and returning home. NOT USING A PROSTHETIC, BUT INSTEAD, USING A WALKER, ON ONE LEG.
Now using common sense and logic, how do you test me for a prosthetic using a walker and NOT USING A PROSTHETIC? Thats like giving me a drivers test for a automobile using a surf board to administer the automobile driving test.
THIS is my current foot…..
NO ankle joint, just a block of wood. I was not born with this block of wood in place of a working ankle. I didn’t learn to walk 59 years ago on a block of wood.
What about us normal everyday amputees who’d like to do things like walk with an ankle, ride a bike, rock wall climb or walk with no noticeable limp or hitch down the aisle for our upcoming wedding? I can’t even get a foot with a articulating ankle joint to mirror a real foot/ankle combination because I’ve been an amputee for 7 months…..BUT I’M NO WORLD CLASS ATHLETE. Just a Man wanting to walk “Normal.”
I need to be able to walk with the working limbs I were born with, and that includes a working ankle. Do NOT tell me I can’t use or be comfortable with a working foot/ankle joint when you do NOT know what I’m capable of doing.
I will close this blog post by saying this, I have progressed faster than the average bear….my timeline attest to this fact….
January 31st, 2019…….Amputation.
February 4th, 2019………Discharged Home.
February 14th, 2019…..First Shrinker.
February 19th, 2019….Surgery Follow Up.
April 17th, 2019……AMP Testing.
April 17th, 2019 ……..1st Prosthetic Casting.
May 2nd, 2019…..1st Prosthetic Fitting.
May 16th, 2019…..Home With Prosthetic.
May 16th, 2019……Using Crutches To Walk.
May 17th, 2019……Using Walker To Walk.
May 19th, 2019…..Using Cane To Walk.
May 21st, 2019……Walking On My Own.
May 30th, 2019….Prosthetic Adjustment.
June 19th, 2019…..Prosthetic Adjustment.
June 20th, 2019…..New Prosthetic Specialists.
June 27th, 2019…..Doctor Writes NEW Prosthesis Order.
July 3rd, 2019…..Casting For New 2nd Socket (Hanger)
July 15th, 2019….1st fitting for new socket (Hanger)
July 19th, 2019….picked up new 2nd socket (Hanger)
The error in the system for getting a new foot is this…INSURANCE WILL ONLY PAY FOR A NEW FOOT EACH YEAR, MAYBE EACH 3 YEARS, DEPENDING ON THE REASON WHY YOU WANT A NEW FOOT.
To be clear, I am ready for a foot that comes with an ankle, with a foot that moves like a real, human foot/ankle moves. I’m being made to wait anywhere from a year to 3 years for the ability to walk normal again…..BASED ON A TEST GIVEN ME 3 MONTHS AFTER THE REMOVAL OF MY LEG BELOW THE KNEE….USING A WALKING DEVICE THAT WAS NOT A PROSTHETIC….TO TEST MY ABILITY FOR USING A PROSTHETIC.
Progress. Ability. Agility. Mobility. A Normal Life. These things are NOT the concern of a prosthetists, a prosthetic company or the insurance companies.
Unless you are a world class athlete, a famous celebrity or can afford the prosthetists out of pocket.
Tell me, does this seem fair, right or the way it should be….to you.
Except for the grace of god, I COULD BE YOU.