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How can physical therapy help lower-limb amputees?

Amputation refers to the surgical loss of a limb due to traumatic or medical reasons. Amputees will often undergo a period of inpatient rehabilitation and then be discharged into the community to be looked after by specialist community therapists – that’s us!

When you start with your community therapist, you will sit down to discuss your goals, what you would like your therapy to look like, and how you would like to exercise. For our lower limb amputees, we often look at your gait (walking) as a starting point and move to fun activities (such as swimming or running) from there.

What does therapy look like now I am an amputee?

Physical Therapy will look different for everyone as it is specialised to your needs and targeted to your goals. We combine clinic, home, and hydrotherapy-based activities depending on what you enjoy, and you can even meet up in the community, perhaps for a nice stroll on the beach! You will likely participate in the following;

Balance retraining

Balance retraining is to assist the body in knowing where the prosthetic limb is and how it reacts to movement. It will involve movements that are both stationary and dynamic.

Strength training

Strength training is integral in ensuring you can control your prosthetic limb and prevent the body from favouring one side, which can cause injury down the track. This may be performed using body weight, free weights, or machines.

Flexibility training

Flexibility training will ensure your residual limb does not develop contractures. This is where the muscle shortens due to lack of use or incorrect use. You will perform long stretches both with the therapist and when at home.

Gait retraining
Why is gait retraining so important for amputees?

Following an amputation, you will be fitted with a prosthetic limb; this is a temporary limb while you wait for your body to adjust to the change and for your leg to change size and shape accordingly. With your new prosthetic, you will notice a huge change in how you walk the biomechanics of the movement. We often see the body start to compensate for being able to walk as easily as it can, however, this can cause issues with our muscles and joints, resulting in pain. Through dedicated gait retraining, we will ensure the correct muscles are firing for you to walk confidently and safely. Once you have the appropriate muscles working to walk well, we can look at jumping, skipping, and running!

Can I return to sports?

In short – YES! We will work with you to return to your chosen sport as best we can. OSSUR Australia runs events across the year to make this more achievable. Check out their website to see if a mobility, surfing, golf, or snow clinic is close to you soon!

Whatever your goals are post-amputation, we are here to help you achieve them through therapy, which is targeted to what you like and want to achieve.

Contact the friendly team at Levaro, who can help answer any questions or help connect you with a Physiotherapist that can support you.

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