Each person who comes to the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab for a prosthetic or orthotic device is an individual with unique circumstances, needs, and desires to lead a full and rewarding life – to make a difference. Whether you need a prosthetic leg that can support you in everyday tasks or you need a device to take you to the heights of a competitive Paralympic sport, our technicians will custom-build a device that fits your needs and your body.
Although many prosthetic and orthotic providers can fill your prescription, few have expert clinical teams who collaborate with you, your physician and your therapists as one unified team. We work closely with you to provide recommendations for your orthosis (brace) or prosthesis (artificial limb). At Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, we know that multidisciplinary care has a positive impact on your recovery.
With the location of the Prosthetic & Orthotic Program at the flagship hospital downtown, it is possible that your doctor, therapist or therapists, and prosthetist will all be in the same building. Our professionals work in close collaboration with your doctors and therapists to ensure that your device meets your needs and that you receive the proper therapy to use it to its fullest potential.
Our Unique Services
Your Care Team
If you were born with a limb difference, or if you have experienced limb loss, our prosthetists are here to get to know you, your strengths and your goals.
If you were born with a condition such as cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy, arthrogryposis, or if you have experienced a stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury or any condition affecting the movement of your arms, legs or spine, our orthotists are here to help you.
In your initial meeting with your prosthetist or orthotist, you will discuss your lifestyle, career, hobbies, plans and expectations. The clinician will then evaluate your current strength level and range of motion as well as your general health and the condition of your limbs.
You will want to bring any device you are currently using and wear clothing that allows access to the affected limb. Once the clinician has had a chance to fully evaluate you and recommend a device to best fit your needs, he or she will consult with your referring physician and your insurance for approval and clearance.
Measurement and Impression-taking
During this visit — which for some devices will be during the evaluation visit — the clinician will fully measure the residual limb as well as the unaffected limb. He or she will then take an impression with plaster or fiberglass. Within a couple of weeks, your device will be built from a model created from this impression.
Fitting may involve one visit or a series of visits, depending on the complexity of your custom-built device. Your prosthetist or orthotist will want to ensure that you are comfortable and that the device is aligned and positioned properly on your body. He or she will observe you using the device to ensure it is working properly. Once the fit is right, the device will stay at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab for about two weeks for final fabrication.
Once your device is ready for you to take home, you will come to Shirley Ryan AbilityLab to pick it up. Your clinician will make sure you know how to operate all of its features and instruct you on its care and maintenance. You will receive an initial wearing schedule to allow your body to adjust to it. You also will want to schedule your therapy sessions as soon as possible to further assist in using your new device.
As you use your prosthetic or orthotic device, you will likely want to return to the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab for adjustments or minor repairs. If your device stops working or fitting correctly, please stop wearing the device and call for an evaluation and possible repair.
Prosthetics and Orthotics Clinical Center for Kids
Prosthetics & Orthotics Program (POP) is especially proud of its services for children with orthotic and prosthetic needs. Orthoses or prostheses may be appropriate for children with amputation, spasticity, club foot, burn or other conditions.
Multiple Limb Amputation/Multiple Limb Difference
Someone who is missing both arms, both legs or all four limbs requires a specialty-trained, multidisciplinary team to facilitate the best outcome. We have a long history of working successfully with patients who have overcome multiple limb amputation to go on to college, return to work, become a parent and enjoy favorite pastimes in retirement.
We work with children of every age, from birth and adolescence into adulthood. We help as your child grows and develops. Your care team will take time to get to know you and your family, collaborate with each other and share advice on helping your child thrive at each developmental stage.
An ankle foot orthosis (AFO) is the most commonly used orthosis (brace). Tuning is the dynamic process of observing a person standing and walking with the AFO, measuring the movement and alignment of the body through slow motion, digital and force plate recordings and then adjusting the alignment of the AFO and shoes in order to optimize body mechanics.
Upper Limb Prosthetics
Patients travel to Shirley Ryan AbilityLab from around the world to receive our comprehensive upper-limb prosthetics care. Whether you were born with a limb difference, or experienced an illness or injury that led to amputation, we are here to support you.