Losing a limb is both physical and emotional. Health problems associated with amputations are common. Symptoms include poor fitting prosthetics, skin tissue breakdowns and nerve pain.
Over two million Americans live with limb loss. Half of all amputations (54%) are the result of poor circulation. Trauma accounts for (45%) of all amputations and cancer related amputations amount to less than 2%.
Physical therapy plays an important role in a person’s physical well-being. Therapy helps maintain and improve the limbs circulation, skin health, strength and endurance.
Maintaining normal limb posture and range of motion at your knee and hip is critical to avoiding development of a contracture. When your limbs muscles are not used, contractures of muscles shorten. Your lower limbs and knee joint must be exercised to maintain full range of motion. Exercise programs can also decrease the risk of developing contractures.
The best prosthesis will be prescribed for your day to day needs and physical activity goals. A permanent prosthesis is usually designed several weeks after amputation. This gives the stump time to shrink completely from surgery.
Under your doctor’s direction your physical therapist will help you to function independently. Exercise programs begin once your physician clears you for weight bearing movements.
Strength and stretching exercises help improve strength, balance, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness. Your physical therapist will help you learn to stand, balance, and walk again. Physical therapy treatments may include:
Gentle stretching and range-of-motion exercises.
Learning to roll in bed, sit on the side of the bed, and move to a chair.
Proper limb positioning to prevent contractures.