Physical therapy can return your level of functioning
What about physical therapy can return your level of functioning? Amputation has several phases. If you don't use the time till your surgery wisely, you miss having a team of specialists ready when you need them. There is no time to prepare if you are involved in an auto accident or other medical crisis. It is a time when you need to get your questions answered and begin to gather people around you to make this transition as easy as possible. In my case, I needed to find a psychotherapist, a psychiatrist, and a physical therapist who knows things like gait management and has experience helping amputees.
Work With Your Permanente Disability
At some point, you enter a new phase where you realize you are dealing with a permanent disability. You have to adjust to a new self-image. Self-care presents a new challenge as well. Physical therapy can return your level of functioning and mobility. Suppose you don't make sure your physical therapist has experience treating amputees. In that case, you may be feeling you are just playing Symon-says. Don't be afraid to develop a specific treatment plan with them ahead of time. Physical therapy can give you back control of your life. Follow your physical therapist, and you will be improving the overall quality of life—physically, emotionally, and socially. Physical therapy can return your level of functioning.
Look For These Concerns
Here are things your physical therapist should do for you:
- Evaluate wound healing and stump care
- Activities to help improve motor skills, restore activities of daily living (ADLs), and help you reach maximum independence
- Exercises that promote muscle strength, endurance, and control
- Evaluating the fit and use of artificial limbs (prostheses)
- Pain management for both post-operative and phantom pain (a sensation of pain that occurs below the level of the amputation)
- Use of assistive devices
- Emotional support to help during the grieving period and with readjustment to a new body image
Physical therapy can return your level of functioning. You are at a crossroads after your amputation. You must learn to live with a residual limb. Unfortunately, many amputees are left on their own to decide on physical therapy. Without it, you are in store for a wide variety of additional problems like spending the rest of your life in a wheelchair.
Learning to Walk Again
Getting your prostheses is a significant turning point in your physical recovery. It is equivalent to learning to walk for the first time. Your prosthetist makes any adjustments to deal with your stump changing in size. Your physical therapist sees you in action and should check the fit of your leg much more often. Physical therapy is also essential for people who already have a prosthesis but spend long periods without using it due to health problems, poor fit, or residual limb issues. Once you get that new leg, the goal of rehabilitation turns to mastering the use of the new limb and returning to activities they loved pre-amputation.
Even if amputees decide never to use a prosthesis, physical therapy is essential to maintain muscle strength. Becoming sedentary shortens your life span. Physical Therapy can help you maintain and improve your circulation, skin health, strength, and endurance.
Unfortunately, there are a limited number of physical therapists around the country who specialize in amputee recovery. Therefore, you must take an active role in finding one. If you leave it up to your surgeon, his staff will refer you to a generic physical therapist.
Physical therapy can return your level of functioning. Getting appropriate physical therapy from the right therapist at the right time and in the right amount can help you avoid all of these problems. When it comes to physical therapy, an ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure.