Amputee K Levels

Amputee K-Levels

Amputee-K-LevelsThe amputee K-levels ranking system is the common practice in the US for classifying amputees into 5 classes. On 2001, the US Health Care Financing Administration’s (HCFA) published  a common procedure coding system using code modifiers (K0, K1, K2, K3, K4) as a 5-level functional classification system related to the functional abilities of lower-limb amputees. In simple words, the lower the activity potential of the amputee, the lower is his/her amputee K-level and vice versa.

Why do we care about our amputee K-level at all? For one, health insurance plans rely on the K-level when approving a prosthetic leg and its components.  Once an amputee is assigned a K-level, this dictates the class of the prosthetics the amputee can purchase.

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Turning Points – A Mother’s Perspective

Turning Points – A Mother’s Perspective

Turning pointsIt happened and from now on this is our reality. In that fateful moment the entire family was plunged into a dizzying spiral that words cannot describe. One telephone call and in a split second life turns upside down. I am a mother, and mothers are meant to protect their children. For 18 years I succeeded. And suddenly, in one moment, a voice, that sounds like it’s coming out of the freezer, tells me that there was an incident in my son’s army base and he has been injured. Strangers to these circumstances will not understand this turning point. The point that becomes a long and continuous process, as we attempt to digest this reality that has been chosen for us. Our little boy who put on his army fatigues for the first time only a month ago has been transformed from a handsome young man to a disabled army veteran with an amputated right leg. Continue reading

Amputee Weight Loss? How to Calculate “Amputee BMI”?

What is the “True” Weight of Amputees?

Amputee weight lossAfter Ofri had his below-knee amputation, we were joking at home saying one positive way to look at it is to see the weight loss caused by the amputation :-). Already at the hospital, after the surgery and later in the rehabilitation center, we’ve heard numbers varying from 1.5 to 2.5 kg weight loss due to the amputation. Ofri is a below-knee amputee and his amputation is roughly 2/3 of the leg away from the knee (in other words, the lower third of the leg is gone). The number for the missing leg weight sounded reasonable so we never tried to look deeper into this issue.

Recently, I’ve seen people raising this question. In an attempt to calculate their BMI, they ran into the question: “what would be the weight of my missing leg/arm?”, “how can I estimate my total body weight, had I not been amputated?” When I saw someone apologizing for asking such a “stupid” question, I decided to look for an answer. Remember, when it comes to the quality of life of the amputee, there are no stupid questions.

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Post Operative Management – Self Care After Amputation

Self care after amputation?A few weeks after limb amputation you might find yourself leaving the hospital for recovery period before starting the prosthetic gait training. In another scenario, you might go through a short gait training (if you’re a symes or a traumatic BK / Trans Tibial) and return home to deal with your new life.

Either way, being at home doesn’t mean you have to rest and wait for something good to happen. On the contrary, self care after amputation is crucial for your recovery and for your stump health. There are plenty of things you should know and do while you’re at home. Continue reading

Vari Flex Foot Review: Vari-Flex with EVO

Vari Flex Foot Review: Vari-Flex with EVO

Vari Flex foot with EVOToday I’d like to write a review about my old trusted Vari-Flex with EVO prosthetic foot. The Vari-Flex® foot is a member of the Flex Foot® family of prosthetic feet, developed and sold by Ossur. I’ve been walking on a Vari-Flex for about 4 years now and so I got a chance to test it in pretty much every possible situation in my life.

Let’s begin with some history. The Flex Foot® technology was originally invented by Van Phillips who himself is a below knee amputee. Later on Ossur bought Phillips’ company and the rest is history. Continue reading

Prosthetic Leg Pain

Prosthetic Leg PainAs a follow-up to this post, I must talk about pain when using a prosthetic leg. First of all let’s clarify something: your prosthetic leg need NOT hurt you! Using a prosthetic leg is NOT supposed to be painful. Sadly, reality is sometimes a bit more complicated. Second, this post does not relate in any way to phantom limb pain. Rather, when I talk about prosthetic leg pain I refer to the pain caused by wearing our prosthetic leg.

The key to a good prosthetic leg, one that can be worn for as much time as one wants, is the socket. The socket is the interface to the body. It’s the single point where the machine touches the body, and it’s the single most critical part of the prosthesis. Do not be fooled; talking about feet, materials and cosmetic covers is very nice but if the socket doesn’t fit well, you won’t be able to wear your leg. It also doesn’t matter how expensive your prosthetic leg is, if the socket is bad then its useless. Continue reading

Learning To Live With A Prosthesis

Living with a ProsthesisA lot of non-amputees look at me and ask questions that to me seem a bit weird. They ask things like “it’s really painful, right?”, “well, but obviously you can’t run/jump/bike/swim/…, right?”. My initial response to these kinds of questions is to smile :) I was asking the exact same questions when I got injured, but today these same questions seem a bit funny. After smiling, I try to explain that using a prosthetic leg is really similar to wearing a shoe, and that the only limitation of what one can do is the mind, the mental limitations we impose on ourselves. Continue reading

Foot Review: Ibex Foot System by Emotis

I’m thrilled to be writing the very first prosthetic foot review on this site. And I’m especially excited that the first ever review is for (spoiler alert) a prosthetic foot as great as the Ibex foot system by Emotis. But first, we must agree on several things. Firstly, prosthetic feet are highly subjective. A prosthetic foot can be amazing for one person and completely suck for the next. Therefore, this review purely reflects my opinion.

Once we’ve settled the issue of subjectivity, we must discuss the profile of the wearer/user of a prosthetic foot. Different people live differently, engage in different activities and care about different aspects of their prosthetic feet. As for me, I’m a 23 years old software engineer and computer science student, so naturally I spend most of my day sitting in front of my computer. In the evenings, after work and school, I go to the gym. This happens about 5 times a week, and so must be taken into account when picking a foot. Oh, and I’m a proud right BK :)

All of this should give you a pretty good understanding of my usage – I need a foot for sitting AND for doing high impact activities such as running, weight lifting, working on the cross-trainer, etc. As a young guy, I also care about being able to stand for long periods of time as well as jumping, taking long walks and going up and down lots of stairs. Basically, I try to do everything a non-amputee does. Just live my life normally. Continue reading

You probably need to add a stump sock

Ever tried to practice an aerobic activity without first adding a stump sock? Did you manage to do it? If not, than you probably needed to add a sock before attempting the activity.

Stump socks

Adding extra stump socks before starting an aerobic activity is common practice for below-knee amputees. It should feel a bit too tight before starting, but it’s a must while running, jumping, working on a cross-trainer, running up & down stairs, etc. There are several reasons for this:

First, the impact on the stump. While practicing such activities, the force we create against the ground is way stronger than during normal walking. As a matter of fact, while running, the generated force can reach about three times your body weight. All of that force acts against our stump, so we must add enough extra stump socks to create the necessary pressure inside the socket, for compensation.

The second reason is sweat. Aerobic activities usually involve heavy sweating. This is true for everyone, not just for amputees. But for us amputees, sweating means that our stump(s) is/are shrinking. Therefore, we must compensate with stump socks.

But what if I’m able to work out without adding an extra stump sock? Well then, good for you :) We are not all the same and different bodies act differently. That said, most amputees probably do need to add a sock, except maybe when biking. While biking, part of the weight of our body is carried by the bike, hence releasing pressure of the stump, in comparison to other sport activities. One could very likely get away without an extra sock while biking, though one should still take the sweat factor into account.

Finally, you might be asking yourself “OK, but what sock should I add?”, and the answer is “it’s up to you”. Some folks need to add a thin, 1 ply sock, others need to add a thicker one. Personally, depending on the activity (cross-trainer or running), I usually add a 1 ply sock before starting, and will sometimes add another 1 ply during the workout.

What works for you? Leave your own personal tips below.