Great Plains Rehabilitation Services recently moved to a new location for its Minot outreach clinic. Great Plains, which formerly operated out of Keycare Medical, now operates out of St. Alexius Specialty Clinic in Minot. Great Plains traveling specialist in Minot is Eric Lieux, certified prosthetist/orthotist. Lieux sees patients in Minot on a weekly basis.
Lieux is skilled in artificial limb and custom bracing design, manufacturing and application. When he travels to Minot, he works with area patients to create custom products for them.
"Most of what we do is custom-made at our lab in Bismarck, about 99 percent of what we do," Lieux said. "I will take an impression of a patient here, and then build a device for them."
Submitted Photo - - Eric Lieux, certified prosthetist/orthotist of Great Plains Rehabilitation Services, brings his products and his expertise to outreach clinics. He visits St. Alexius Specialty Clinic in Minot weekly to see patients.
Great Plains Rehabilitation Services' lab is centrally located in Bismarck, but specialists travel out to many regional clinics to serve patients.
Creating a prosthesis for a patient is a complex process. After the first prosthesis is created, patients have an appointment with Lieux to determine fit and any adjustments that need to be made.
"At the next appointment, we'll do a walk around with the patient," Lieux said. "We go through the process of dynamic alignment, looking for what creates a patient's optimal gait pattern."
"When we're looking at choosing a prosthesis I take into account what a patient's job is, what they've done in the past and what they might still be able to do in the future," Lieux said. "We don't try to answer all of their needs at first, because they will change so rapidly and the limb may no longer fit in six months."
Patients often go through a number of different prosthetics in their life not because the products wear out, but because of a patient's changing needs and abilities.
There is a wide variety of options for many patients now, because the field has rapidly expanded. Bionic limbs have entered into the equation as well. A bionic limb, Lieux said, is electrically controlled and gives the patient control in real time.
"Bionics are on everybody's mind," Lieux said. "We do every form of them that's out there, but not everybody is suited for them. A bionic knee, for example, as opposed to another kind of knee, will sense if you stub your toe and lock up. If you're using another type of knee, the patient has to tighten their muscles and pull back to avoid falling."
"The more active you are, the less bionics are useful for you," he added. "Bionics really suit the moderate walker or the middle aged person who isn't very active better."
Though the field has expanded rapidly, it also raises questions in the accessibility and affordability of the newer options.
"We're seeing a lot of things on the cutting edge," Lieux said. "My concern is whether they would be practically available or not. With every change comes increased cost, because prostheses aren't mass-produced, but customized to individuals. When an improvement comes along, the cost doesn't decrease because so few of them are made."
Despite all of the changes in the field, the most important factor is the patient and the patient's lifestyle.
"There are about 110 different kind of feet, for example," Lieux said. "Only about 20 of them will be good for a particular patient. We'll bring one in, try it, and if it doesn't work for them we will try another. We want to find that match that works."