Amputees can design their own sockets with the help of the center’s in-house technician.[/caption]
The center creates prosthetic limbs on-site and assembles components for patients.[/caption]
On July 4, 2009, Lydia Manriquez was in a rollover automobile accident in San Antonio, her hometown. After being airlifted to a hospital, Manriquez learned the tissue around one of her feet was damaged and the limb needed to be amputated, she said.
In 2014, Manriquez began a new chapter of her life, working as a patient advocate at Austin Prosthetic Center. Located in the Westlake Medical Center at 5656 Bee Caves Road, the center provides prosthetics, or artificial limbs, for patients who have lost a lower limb or upper extremity due to accident, disease or congenital deformity.
As a patient advocate, Manriquez visits with patients both before and after their amputations. She listens, answers questions and even shares her cell phone number with them, she said.
“Though everyone has their own story, we can all relate to each other,” Manriquez said.
The peer support Manriquez provides is crucial to the recovery process for patients, said Austin Prosthetic Center owner Tracey Russ.
Another crucial piece of the recovery is education, said Matt Harris, an engineer and board-certified prosthetist. He said his biggest challenge is teaching patients how to get used to their new limb and learn to walk in it.
“It’s still a prosthesis made from components [and] it’s not going to walk for [an amputee],” Harris said. “[The amputee is] going to have to relearn how to walk—to take the steps and build the muscles.”
In addition to crafting prosthetics for new amputees, the center also works with people who need adjustments to their existing prostheses. Just as a body changes over time, so too must the prosthesis, Manriquez said.
“The residual limb changes over time—the muscle atrophies, volume fluctuates, just the shape of it alone can change and there’s wear and tear just like in a shoe,” she said.
The business creates its prosthetic limbs on-site, which allows for a truly custom product, Manriquez said. The facility’s in-house technician assembles premanufactured components to build the pylon, fabricating the socket that fits onto the residual limb, she said.
For more active patients, the center can supply running feet and waterproof swimming feet that accommodate a fin, Harris said.
Patients can design their own sockets with the help of the center’s in-house technician. For example, Manriquez said she designed her Valentine’s special—a socket covered in black lace. Patients can either choose from a variety of fabrics offered by the center or create their own design.
This trend in prosthetics is a relatively new phenomenon, Harris said.