Piedmont’s Physical therapists help people who receive an amputation prepare for surgery, and regain strength, movement, and function following surgery.
Prosthetic fitting and training:
Your physical therapist will work with a prosthetist to prescribe the best prosthesis for your life situation and activity goals. You will receive a temporary prosthesis at first while your residual limb continues to heal and shrink/shape over the first 6 to 9 months of healing. The prosthesis will be modified to fit as needed over this time.
Most people with transtibial amputations learn to walk well with a prosthesis. Physicians use the following criteria to determine when you are ready for a temporary prosthesis, or your first artificial limb.
After the limb has reached a stable shape, and your physician approves your condition, you will be fitted for a permanent prosthesis.
After you move from acute care to rehabilitation, you will learn to function more independently.
Your physical therapist will help you master wheelchair mobility and walking with an assistive device like crutches or a walker. Your therapist also will teach you the skills you need for the successful use of your new prosthetic limb. You will learn how to care for your residual limb with skin checks and hygiene and continue contracture prevention with exercise and positioning.
Your physical therapist will teach you how to put your new prosthesis on and take it off, and how to manage a good fit with the socket type you receive. Your therapist will help you to gradually build up a tolerance for wearing your prosthesis for increasingly longer times while protecting the skin integrity of your residual limb. You will continue to use a wheelchair for getting around, even after you get your permanent prosthesis, for times when you are not wearing the limb.
Prosthetic training is a process that can last up to a full year. You will begin when your physician clears you for putting weight on the prosthesis. Your physical therapist will help you learn to stand, balance, and walk with the prosthetic limb. Most likely you will begin walking in parallel bars, then progress to a walker, and later as you get stronger, you may progress to using a cane before walking independently without any assistance. You will also need to continue strengthening and stretching exercises to achieve your fullest potential, as you return to many of the activities you performed before your amputation.