Why You Need Physio After a Foot or Leg Amputation

Posted on: 21 August 2019


Is it ever possible to psychologically prepare yourself for the amputation of a leg or foot? When the amputation is necessary as an exhaustive measure to remove a malignant growth or when it's due to a particular pre-existing condition (such as complications from diabetes), you will at least be able to discuss the amputation with your doctor, allowing you to know what to expect. When the amputation is a necessity after a traumatic injury, the decision to remove your foot or leg will need to be made quickly, without much opportunity for mental preparation. Although it might seem counterintuitive, physio is a crucial component of rehabilitation after an amputation. How can a physiotherapist help with a portion of your body that is no longer there? 

In Hospital

Physiotherapy can begin very shortly after the procedure, often while you're still recovering in a hospital. In these early stages, it can have a more pragmatic approach, such as teaching you the best method to maneuver yourself into a wheelchair, how to ease yourself into bed or into a sitting position and even how to position yourself on the toilet. As the site of your amputation heals, physio can still continue.

After Discharge

While your leg or your foot might be gone, the rest of the limb will need to be maintained. Certainly, there are a number of exercises you can do to accomplish this, but in the early stages of recovery after being discharged, it can be beneficial to have a physiotherapist teach you the best methods. Once the site of the amputation has adequately healed to permit it, remedial massage can also be beneficial in order to stimulate the nerves, muscles and tendons in your limb. 

Using a Prosthesis

Once the site has had sufficient time to recover, the next stage to restore your mobility might be utilising a prosthetic leg or foot. Of course, a prosthesis will not be reactive in the same manner as the part of your body it's intended to replace. Your mobility will depend on utilising the best method to control the prosthesis with your gait, essentially requiring you to learn how to walk again. Physiotherapy is the way in which you will learn to do this. It can be a prolonged process, so don't become discouraged if you're not immediately confident with your prosthesis.

The loss of a leg or a foot can be both physically and emotionally traumatic. Physio can be highly beneficial during the necessary adjustment.