Talk to Your Child’s Health Care Providers
Your child has a team working to ensure their health and wellbeing. Take advantage of their expertise. And bring a notebook (or digital version)! Ask questions. If they start throwing out medical terms and jargon, ask them to spell and define unfamiliar terms (make a note for yourself).
Many parents feel intimidated by this; they don’t want to ask questions for fear they’ll look ignorant. Remember, doctors, go to school for years and receive ongoing training to learn this! You wouldn’t need them if they weren’t experts in their field. You’re not expected to have the same level of medical knowledge (unless you happen to be a doctor/nurse yourself).
The point is that they’re there to provide you with a service; part of that service is explaining what is going on with your child in a way that is clear to you. Do not be afraid. Remember, you are the expert on your child, and you need this information.
Depending on the hospital or health center at which your child is being treated, they are likely to have a resource page with helpful information and tips. From knowing what to expect during visits to paying for care, the more knowledge you have going into the process, the better you’ll be able to handle the challenges.
Google Can Help!
If you leave an appointment with questions, turn to your notebook. Google the terms your provider used (and should have spelled for you!). Many health care providers will also give you additional information in pamphlets or via website links. Use these. Go home and study up.
This is helpful for a few reasons: when you’re speaking with a doctor, you may be struggling to adjust to your new reality. You may be overwhelmed. This is understandable - and completely normal! Make notes for yourself, and when you’re able to sit down and research, you can start to make sense of it. You can also make a list of new questions you want to ask your child’s doctor via email or at follow-up visits.
Remember You Have a Team
Your health care providers are only part of your child’s team. Your prosthetic or orthopedic appliance company is another invaluable resource. They can answer questions about everything from proper fit and comfort to adjusting and maintaining the brace or prosthetic.
Their goal is to ensure that your child knows how to integrate the appliance into their lives - and, hopefully, after a time, forget about it as they play, go to school, and ask you for a snack for the hundredth time.
Again, take advantage of their expertise! If you don’t understand a term, ask. This is what they’re here for, and, ultimately, you are all on the same time: your kid’s.
You can also ask your child’s doctors and orthopedic appliance providers if they can point you in the direction of support groups. It may be beneficial for your child to interact with peers who use orthopedic braces or prosthetics: they’ll see it as a new type of normal rather than an impediment that only makes them different.
It is also helpful for parents to connect. Knowing other people are coping with the same issues is comforting, and you can learn some great strategies for caring for your child - and yourself. If you can find a group in your area, consider attending. If you can’t or your schedule is tight, find an online forum and check it out.
Get Excited for the Future
When you’re new to the world of pediatric orthopedic appliances, it can be hard to get past the now. You’re facing a very different set of circumstances than, perhaps, you’d planned for. But looking ahead can help you overcome the challenges of today and get you excited for your child’s future.
There are excellent programs for children with limb differences. From adventure camps to athletic organizations, these are designed to show families that braces or prosthetics may change life - but it can be a change for the better.
Adventure Amputee Camp, for example, is located right in the heart of the North Carolina mountains (Bryson City). Campers age 8-17 participate in activities like tennis, white water rafting, water skiing, tubing, scuba diving, yoga, basketball, dodgeball, ziplines, rope courses, and more. Adaptive activities and a camper to counselor ratio of 2:1 means that kids with limb differences will get the support they need - while they have an amazing time.
AAC’s motto is “Challenge by Choice.” Yes, your child is facing several challenges. But when they challenge themselves by choice, they learn that a brace or prosthetic doesn’t limit them. In fact, it can free them to enjoy endless activities and experiences.
As you research medical terms and advice about orthopedic appliances, don’t forget to look into the fun stuff too!
We know this is a trying time. Your child is depending on you to show them the way. That doesn’t mean you have to find the way all by yourself. Reach out to your team. Orthopedic Appliance Company is here to help as well. Contact us for more information.