Innovation in aids and equipment

If you are an amputee with the opportunity to make a compensation claim, there are a lot of aids and equipment to consider including in your claim which can improve your mobility and thus your ability to work and live as independently as possible.

Just because these are innovative and possibly expensive does not mean you cannot claim for the cost. The Court will decide what you can claim based upon what is reasonable, proportionate and what makes a material difference to your life following the loss of a limb.

Below are some of the latest aids and equipment an amputee will need to consider.

Prosthetic Limbs
Although it can take many months or years for the stump to stabilise in shape, your first prosthetic limb may be fitted as a temporary measure about 2 months after amputation. First, a mould is taken of your stump so that the right shape can be made for the socket. The stump can shrink during the day requiring the socket to be packed with (often socks) to keep the fit. Socket liners help with comfort.

Once the stump has stabilised, an amputee can learn to use the new limb and the best ankle, knee or cosmetic cover for their needs. Recent technological developments include electronic, robotic feet, microprocessor knees and hydraulic ankles. Bio-electronic hands allow users to open and close hands and fingers using muscles in the residual arm.

Endolite and Ottobock are two of the main sources of prosthetic limb manufacture  - see their websites

There are limbs for different activities to help the amputee re-discover many of the activities they enjoyed before they lost their limb, including cycling, swimming, climbing, skiing, walking on rough ground, running, as well as day to day activities.

Silicone or gel liners help with comfort and fit between stump and prosthetic limb. The socket itself can be secured to the stump via a sleeve suspension/vacuum or pin system.

Your compensation claim can include a claim for several different types of prosthetic limb depending on your needs. You can also claim for the costs of future replacement limbs, maintenance and repairs. This can all be identified and costed by a specialist prosthetist.

Even if you are totally happy with your prosthetic leg, you will need a wheelchair for times when your limb is not functioning, when you are fatigued or you are not well enough to walk or it is just not practical to use it. Older amputees rely more heavily on wheelchairs as the stress of walking on a prosthetic limb can be more difficult to manage.

Occupational therapists can advise on the best wheelchair to suit you. The limbless association lists UK based wheelchair manufacturers. These options should be discussed with your occupational therapist.

Adaptations at home
Your home will need to be adapted to accommodate your needs. If a wheelchair is needed then doors and doorways will need to be widened and access to toilets and other furniture reviewed. Ergonomic grab rails and ramps should be fitted. Stair lifts will be considered for accommodation on more than one floor. Access to the property will need to be adapted, including external step lifts. Height adjustable work tops can be fitted with knee recesses to allow you to sit in a wheelchair and prep food, cook and wash up. Height adjustable shelving and cupboards are available too. Wet rooms are recommended for washing.

Vehicle adaptations

You will need a vehicle that works for your mobility needs. Does it need a big boot for fitting a wheelchair? Is it comfortable to get in and out of? Are the seats comfortable? Do you need specialist controls? In all cases try before you buy. Mobility Centers and specialist care dealerships will let you test drive vehicles to help you decide what works for you.

DVLA will assist you to ensure you can drive again although they will need to assess your fitness to drive. Specialist driving lessons are recommended. Get a blue badge.

Car leasing through Motability works well for many amputees.

You can visit the website to search for a car to suit your needs.

Key Contact

Gemma Rowe

Chartered Legal Executive

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+44 (0)1392 334017

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