What to Look For in a Physical Therapist

4 April 2022

The loss of a limb can be a traumatic event to go through, not only physically, but also emotionally. Losing a limb and learning to use a prosthetic limb are life-changing events. Though it may not always be easy, it’s possible to live a completely normal life after amputation; it just requires some preparation, patience, and acclimation to your new normal.

One of the components of recovery from amputation is going to see a professional physical therapist. There are many professionals who specialize in amputee physical therapy and prosthetic physical therapy, and there are countless benefits to undergoing professional physical therapy. Below, we’ll go over the four main components of amputation recovery and why you need professional physical therapy to navigate it.

What Are the Components of Recovery From Amputation?

Recovering from an amputation is not just adjusting to the loss of your limb; it’s also about learning how to use a prosthetic and adjusting to a new way of living and sometimes relearning previously mastered skills. There are four main components in recovery. They are:

1. Managing the risk of complications

Amputation is major surgery, and as with any surgery, there are inherent risks involved. The first thing you and your medical team will do is manage the risk of complications. Complications can include heart problems, deep vein thrombosis, infection, a staggering rate of healing, pneumonia, and phantom limb syndrome. In the first few months after surgery, taking care of your residual limb is of utmost importance. You’ll need to keep it clean to avoid infections, and you’ll need to use devices like a shrinker to help shape your limb and aid in improving your circulation and desensitizing your residual limb.

2. Physical therapy and rehabilitation

Amputee physical therapy and rehab are the most important things you can do to regain your independence and get back on your feet, both figurately and perhaps even literally. Rehab can last up to a year and always begins with slow and gentle movements so that you can build your strength up in a sustainable manner. Amputee physical therapy and prosthetic physical therapy work to strengthen your residual limb to aid in prosthetic control and strengthen your remaining limbs so that they’re capable of taking on more functionality now. Prosthetic gait training physical therapy is a new skill that your professional prosthetist and amputee physical therapist will work on with you, too. Gait training is an essential element of physical therapy to help you learn to walk with your prosthetic as similarly as possible to how you walked before your amputation.

3. Gaining mobility and independence

Your professional physical therapist and professional prosthetist will be instrumental in helping you gain mobility and independence after amputation and helping you to better acclimate to your new modes of movement. Working in prosthetic physical therapy will help you to build muscle strength and mental strength and will decrease your reliance on others.

4. Long-term care

Long-term care requires physical and emotional recovery. Amputee physical therapy doesn’t stop once you feel comfortable walking independently; it’s an ongoing commitment. Depending on your situation, you may need to see your prosthetic physical therapist one to five times a week. Eventually, the number of visits you make will decrease, but it’s important that you continue going, at least monthly, to make sure that your prosthetic is still supporting you and your lifestyle, to make sure that you’re comfortable, and to make sure you’re building the proper strength in your remaining limbs.

Emotional recovery is just as important as physical recovery in long-term care, too. You can experience strong psychological effects after losing a limb too. Feelings of grief, deflated self-esteem, confusion, and anxiety relating to phantom limb pain, and many more feelings are all part of what to expect after amputation. Working with a therapist or another mental health professional is a great way to help work through your feelings and adjust to your new life. Your amputee physical therapist and prosthetist are both great people to speak with, too.

When looking for a professional physical therapist, you want to make sure that they can perform both amputee physical therapy and prosthetic physical therapy. You want to make sure that your medical team is equipped to help you recover in a healthy, safe, and quick manner. Your professional prosthetist can work with you doing prosthetic gait-training physical therapy and can refer you to some of the best professional physical therapists in your area as well.

To schedule a free evaluation with us or get a list of our recommended physical therapists, contact us today!