Quick Guide to Prosthetic Limbs in Canada - Cost, Types, and Funding

Posted by Alden Hui on February 28, 2020
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The cost of prosthesis can be expensive, ranging from $5,000 to $50,000+, and require replacements every 3-5 years due to wear and tear. Alongside the cost of the artificial limb itself, patients can expect to undergo physical therapy over weeks or months. In this article, we'll look through the types of prosthetics, getting funding, and more. 

What are the options for prosthetics?

Typically, a base model (which is sufficient for most people) will involve a control system using cables to replicate muscles. This is considered a mechanical model, whereas, an electronic model can cost upwards of $100,000 because it uses computers and sensors to replicate the human muscular system. 

What's involved in the cost of prosthetics?

Besides the cost to produce the prosthesis itself, it takes years for highly specialized engineers to develop and create a working part. This research and development results in a fair chunk of money for each individual unit since the market size is small to begin with. Furthermore, parts typically require upgrades every 3-7 years to account for the latest technology. 

How does an artificial limb work? 

A prosthetic limb contains a number of components:

  • The limb -  must be light and weigh less than the actual human counterpart. 
  • The socket (connecting the prosthesis with the intact body part) - due to changes over time in the residual limb, the custom socket will also require changing to match.
  • The attachment mechanism - the socket is part of the attachment mechanism. The system ensures the prosthesis is securely attached to the body. 
  • The control system - the use of cables (mechanical) or electrodes (electronic) to replicate muscular impulses.

What are the most common prosthetics?

There are four types of prosthetic limbs which are commonly used in practice:

    • Below the knee - prosthetic lower leg
    • Above the knee - entire leg prosthetic, including the knee joint
    • Below the elbow - prosthetic forearm 
    • Above the elbow - entire arm prosthetic, including the elbow joint. 

The purpose of prosthetics

Prosthetics allows amputees to regain confidence, movement, and more. There are still some limitations to aritifcial limbs such as slight limps, "wear and tear", inability to do complex movements, or specific things like walking backwards down a stair case, but with improving technology, amputees are able to receive more affordable and advanced models. 

Funding your prosthesis

A prosthesis can be life-changing, but for many, the costs are difficult to justify. One primary concern for many amputees is navigating the system for acquiring funds. 

Within each province, there are programs that help with funding and things can get complex. 

A prosthetic is also an eligible item for the Medical Expense Tax Credit in Canada. Depending on your situation, this can lead to some tax relief in the form of a tax credit

Any prosthetic part and related medical costs (such as physical therapy) is eligible in a Health Spending Account. This is a plan for incorporated professionals and small business owners to turn personal medical expenses into before-tax business expenses.

What is a Health Spending Account?

A Health Spending Account turns your after-tax personal medical expenses into a before-tax business expense (through your business).

Basically, the owner gets to withdraw money directly from their company account to pay for their personal medical expenses. As a result, bypassing the need to pay income tax.

See the full list of eligible expenses.

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Topics: medical expenses, prosthetic, prosthetics