Losing a limb is life-changing, and presents no shortage of both physical and emotional challenges. Fortunately, advancements in prosthetics and rehabilitation continue to pave the way for greater hope and resilience for amputees working to restore maximal mobility in their day-to-day lives. Both gait training and emotional support are indispensable during rehabilitation for new prosthesis users.
The Path to Recovery
The highest quality recovery involves both the mind and the body. Modern prosthetics offer more than simply a restoration of lost physical functions—they also help recover one’s sense of independence and normalcy.
Emotional Wellbeing: A Cornerstone
Before delving into the technical aspects of rehabilitation, it is important to acknowledge the emotional toll that limb loss has on an amputee. It is even likened to the loss of a loved one. Beyond merely the physical loss, the emotional trauma can be a heavy burden, leading to mental states such as despair and depression. A lack of motivation makes further recovery much more difficult, which is why emotional support from family, peer support networks, and mental health professionals is paramount.
Pongratz offers support beyond what many medical offices do. We have three amputee liaisons on staff who know what it’s like to go through the emotional and physical challenges of losing a limb. They are able to encourage and bring hope to patients in the hospital, at rehab and care facilities, or in our office.
Restoring the ability to walk is often the primary objective for new amputees. Gait training is a critical component of rehabilitation. It is an intentional process that aims to restore one’s natural mobility, balance, and confidence, with a prosthetic limb.
Gait training helps to avoid bad habits such as gait deviations that put extra strain on the contralateral (residual) limb. Not learning how to use a prosthesis properly can lead to complications, such as:
- Increased energy expenditure
- Increased stress on the residual limb
- Unnecessary torque on the contralateral knee
- Unequal weight distribution
- Injuries on the contralateral side
Assessment and Preparation
Gait training starts with a comprehensive evaluation of the individual’s physical condition, including:
- Residual limb health
- Range of motion
- Muscle strength
- Activities and hobbies engaged in prior to amputation
Fitting and Alignment
Accurate fitting and alignment are fundamental for comfort and effectiveness. Prosthetists collaborate closely with patients to fit and properly align the prosthesis. This process focuses on the structural aspect as well as makes sure the prosthesis is aligned to your individual gait and body.
Foundational Mobility Skills
Early gait training emphasizes essential mobility skills such as:
- Weight Shifting
This increases trust in your prosthesis and helps you grow more confident in your abilities.
Mobility skills progress to the mastery of walking patterns. Users learn to control their prosthesis and adapt their gait for various surfaces and activities.
Proficiency in walking patterns enables exploration of advanced mobility skills like stair climbing, running, hiking, and sports participation. The goal is to restore a full spectrum of activities and help you reintegrate back into your daily life.
Guidance in Getting Back on Your Feet
Our amputee liaisons at Pongratz offer firsthand tips and tricks for accomplishing everyday tasks. They can also assist you through adapting your prosthesis, and connect you with resources for participating in amputee community programs and support groups so you can achieve your mobility goals with maximum support!
Contact Pongratz Today!
Embark on your journey to mobility with Pongratz Orthotics & Prosthetics, a trusted name in orthotics and prosthetics since 1997. In Phoenix Metro and Tucson, we operate fully-equipped facilities that offer comprehensive orthotic and prosthetic care, as well as multiple amputee liaisons on our team that help encourage and provide answers through your healing process. Our team of highly qualified clinicians is accredited by the American Board of Certification, ensuring the highest standards of care. We take a collaborative approach, emphasizing continuity of care to keep our clinicians informed about each patient’s unique needs. Drop us a line so that we can assist you on your road to rehabilitation!