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Exercise After Amputation

There are several reasons amputation may be done. One of the most common reasons is due to poor circulation as a result of peripheral arterial disease. Other indications for amputation include: severe injury from accidents, a serious infection that doesn’t heal with antibiotics, frostbite, cancerous tumors, or neuroma (thickening of nerve tissue).

Prior to surgery, the surgeon, and often the prosthetist, and physical therapist meet with the prospective amputee to discuss plans and goals after the procedure. Rehabilitation is part of the post-operation plan, and exercise is an important component.

Exercising After Amputation

It is vital to have a regular exercise routine after amputation. When done right, exercise can help the amputee maintain a healthy weight, prevent shortening of the muscles, and improve his/her stability.

Maintaining Healthy Weight

Lean muscles are important for maintaining support and stability. Amputees who gain excessive weight tend to experience more problems in the comfort and movement with their prosthesis.

Preventing Contractures

Muscles near the amputated limb tend to shorten. This shortening of the muscles (called contractures) typically results from prolonged sitting in a chair or wheelchair. Contractures may also result from lying in bed with the body out of alignment.

Contractures can be a problem because they limit the range of motion. When severe, a prosthesis may not fit correctly, or worse, a person may not be able to use the prosthesis at all.

The following are good exercises for preventing contractures:

  • Hip Flexor Stretch
    In a hip flexor stretch, the patient is on his/her back, with his/her non-amputated leg up to his/her chest, held/supported by his/her arms. The patient remains in this position while someone pushes the amputated leg down to the bed for about 20 seconds.
  • Adductor Stretch
    In adductor stretch, the patient is seated with his/her back against a wall or head of a bed. The amputated limb is out to the side while the other limb is slightly bent. With both buttocks remaining on the floor, the patient pushes his/her thigh until he/she feels a stretch on the inner thigh.
  • Knee Flexion
    In this exercise, the patient rolls on his/her stomach. With both thighs making contact with the bed or floor, he/she bends one knee back as far as he/she could and hold it for 5 to 10 seconds. This exercise is done to the other knee as well.

Improving Stability

Exercise also has an important role to play in maintaining stability and improving muscle strength. The following exercises can help:

  • Leg Raise
    Doing straight leg raises can help in increasing the strength of the hip flexors.
  • Resistive Band Exercises
    The use of resistive bands in certain exercises can strengthen the hip flexors, internal rotators of the hip, hip abductors, and hip extensors.
  • Step-Down Exercise
    Although only recommended after the patient mastered the step-up exercise, step-down exercises can help in strengthening the hip and knee extensors as well as the hip and trunk stabilizers.

Premier Prosthetic Center in Knoxville is dedicated to restoring patient mobility through well-fitting prostheses. With an experienced surgeon and prosthetist, we help you develop a treatment plan to best achieve your mobility goals.  Call 865-474-7096 today to schedule a FREE consultation.

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