Looking Real, Feeling Whole
Silicone is the closest replication of the exterior covering of the human anatomy that is possible today. It has been available in different applications since the late 1970’s. This does not just give the patient the appearance of a limb with skin but also the texture and density of skin. As both a patient and a prosthetist, Kirsten believes, with the support of research, that looking real with all one’s limbs plays a role in feeling whole. These challenges are caused by society, not the patient, and complicate the patient’s recovery by the imposition of societal opinion that those with limb loss are unworthy. and are not offered by a patient who is unable to cope but by a society preconditioned by primitive reflexes to judge those with limb loss as unworthy and a probable burden. This sets up challenges for relationships, not the least of which is gainful employment. The reaction of society also further reinforces poor body images resulting in lack of confidence, further serving to diminish opportunities as the person living with limb loss or absence must overcome yet more obstacles than just mobility.
The ability to replicate the body in form as well as function should be our goal. Having a prosthesis that replicates the amputated limb as the added benefit of possibly decreasing phantom pain. This is the same effect as seen with mirror-boxes but is more functional and offers a long term treatment.
A person with limb absence or loss need not hide their impairment in shame anymore than a person with glasses should hide their sight impairment with laser surgery. Until there is a way to adjust society’s unjust yet primitive reaction to amputation, the ability to replicate the body in form and function should be our goal.
The Eastern Prosthetic Clinic offers anatomical silicone treatment. We are one of only a few in Canada that offer in-house silicone fabrication of sockets and test pieces for diagnostic assessments and silicone skin replication. We partner with Dorset Orthopedics in England to create the most accurate replacement of the patient’s body. Patients spend time with their assigned silicone artist to give life to their missing part. This is often a very emotional process.
One of the many challenges that persons with amputation experience is finding financial resources to fund their treatment. These financial resources are usually conditional upon meeting policy guidelines for insurance benefits, but are also harnessed by the belief that prosthetic treatment that may appear expensive is considered to a luxury or in the case of silicone, cosmetic. Silicone skin is not cosmetic. The word cosmetic implies enhanced or beautified, when in fact anatomical silicone replication is simply copying and reproducing what you lost – no enhancement, no attempts to beautify; just recreating you!