As a physical therapist, you have many career options. Each year, millions of people benefit from the hands-on treatment and assistant services provided by physical therapists. In fact, for many of these individuals, physical therapy means the difference between working and unemployment, engaging in daily activities of living or not, being able to participate in sporting activities, and even successfully living independent or transferring to an assisted living facility or a skilled nursing home. In this career guide, we will focus on the career path of amputee rehabilitation. Continue reading to learn more!

Amputee Rehabilitation

What is Amputee Rehabilitation?

Amputee rehabilitation is to rehabilitate immediately following the loss of limb. It helps patients learn to ambulate or move in a successful manner with the prosthesis in which they were prescribed.

By specializing in this particular career field, you will provide hands-on treatments that are essential and even critical for patients who seek to return to work, school, and the other daily activities that they have always known and enjoyed.

What is a Prosthesis?

A prosthesis is a medical assistive device designed for a patient that has lost either an arm or a leg. It has a socket that is set firmly inside of a rigid frame – which may be referred to as an “interface” – and includes various components and a cover.

This frame aids in connecting the device directly to the body. Examples of the components that are included in a prosthesis include terminal devices and manmade joints.

What are Terminal Devices in a Prosthesis?

Terminal devices in a prosthesis include artificial hands, artificial feet, artificial fingers, and artificial toes.

If Someone is an Amputee, Are They Considered Disabled?

If a person has had an amputation and it has resulted in their inability to work, they may be classified as “Disabled” and qualify for disability benefits that are provided by the Social Security Administration. Generally speaking, being an amputee does not automatically result in being classified as being disabled. It depends on the consequences of the amputation and how it affects the general livelihood of the patient that has experienced the amputation.

What is an Upper-Limb Amputation?

An upper-limb amputation involves the arms. These mostly happen due to an occupational-based injury. In some instances, they may occur as a result of a disorder or disease, but this is very rate. The amputation may occur at the shoulder, above the elbow, or below the elbow. If a hand or one or more of the fingers must be amputated, this also classifies as an upper-limb amputation.

What Happens During an Upper-Limb Prosthesis Placement?

Immediately following the amputation and healing process, most patients are fitted for an artificial arm or other type of upper-limb prosthesis. Movement of the hand or hook attached to the medical device are usually controlled through the use of the shoulder muscles. There are prostheses that are controlled with microprocessors and may be powered by the energy of the muscles. Currently, bionic-based components are being created and tested. These will likely result in higher levels of functionality and movement.

What is the Rehabilitation for an Upper-Limb Amputation?

As an amputee rehabilitation therapist, you will teach and work through general types of exercises for conditioning with your patient. Additionally, you will need to have the patient engage in exercises that are capable of stretching the shoulder and elbow region. You must help build up the strength of the arm muscles. It may also be important to have your patient complete endurance exercises. The regimen that you prescribe for your patients will be determined on a case-by-case, individual basis. Your role is critical in helping amputees in learning how to perform all of the daily activities of daily living.

woman amputee crunches

What is a Lower-Limb Amputation?

A lower-limb amputation involves either the legs, feet, or toes. In most instances, these occur as a result of an injury or a surgical procedure that is designed to treat a type of complication that is occurring because of an underlying health condition, such as atherosclerosis or even diabetes. Immediately after, the patient will be fitted for a prosthesis.

These may include components such as a knee unit, a leg piece, a foot unit, and toes -it depends on where the amputation occurred. New models are controlled by microprocessors and powered by muscles. Bionic models are being created and tested so that patients are better able to control movements with a higher level of precision.

What is the Rehabilitation for a Lower-Limb Amputation?

As an amputation rehabilitation specialist, your job is to prescribe and help patients with conditioning exercises. The hip and knee areas will need to be stretched and all muscles must be strengthened. You will encourage your patients to stand and perform balance exercises. You may have to prescribe endurance exercises, as well. The muscles near the amputation will shorten. This is called “contractures”. This limits the range of motion that the patient experiences. You will educate your patient on how to prevent these contractures from occurring.

What Must an Amputee Learn About Their Prosthesis?

When your patient receives their prosthesis, they must be taught certain basics. These include how to put the device on and how to remove it. They must learn how to properly care for the remaining stump and how to care for the prosthesis. Additionally, they must be taught how to walk with the prosthesis and maintain their balance. While the patient will have a large team of specialists, you will play a critical role in all aspects of their care.

Join Our Network Today and Take Part in a Highly Rewarding Field

Becoming an amputee rehabilitation specialist will result in your becoming a very important person in the lives of your patients, which will change significantly after they experience an amputation. You may join our network today to collaborate with like-minded professionals, research job opportunities, and advance your physical therapy career. Colorado Physical Therapy Network is the one-stop source for all medical therapists.

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