The Cost of a New Limb Can Add up Over a Lifetime

ABCNews.com—April 25, 2013

The price of a new prosthetic leg can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000. But even the most expensive prosthetic limbs are built to withstand only three to five years of wear and tear, meaning they will need to be replaced over the course of a lifetime, and they're not a one-time cost.

Ten days after the Boston Marathon bombing, the most gravely injured among the victims have begun the daunting road to recovery. At least 14 of those injured in the blasts had to have limbs amputated, and at least two people had multiple amputations.

Each prosthetic limb must be custom fit to every patient, and costs can add up. Once they're fitted with the prosthesis, patients also need to attend physical therapy for weeks or months.

"Depending on what components you get on it, [the cost] can vary greatly," said Glenn Garrison, director of prosthetics and orthotics at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. "They're probably in line with a cost of a car. It can be a pricey thing to work with."

With physical therapy, Garrison said amputees could start walking on their own within two to four weeks after receiving a prosthesis. According to Garrison, most patients will have one prosthesis for the first year, but will likely need a second one to accommodate their changing physique.

After that, a prosthesis usually wears out every three to five years, although Garrison said there were exceptions.

"I've seen people drive 20-year-old cars, and I've seen people walk on 20-year-old legs," said Garrison.

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