Why are wheelchairs important for amputees

Leg amputation: advice on mobility and positioning

A sensitive topic: leg amputation

After amputation of a foot, lower leg or thigh, the goal is to restore the mobility of the person affected as quickly as possible. This will help him to participate in life again.

It often takes years before psychological consequences can be dealt with. The more mobile a person becomes after an amputation, the better they can adapt to the changed living conditions. In order to fit a suitable prosthesis, it is important to maintain the mobility of the joints. If contractures form, learning to walk with a prosthesis is very difficult, if not impossible.

After an amputation, the weight ratios and the statics of the human body change. A person who weighs 64 kg before amputation is about 18 kg short after a thigh amputation. This often leads to poor posture and movements.

You will observe that the stump is automatically held upwards when turning in bed, for example. The dead weight that pulls the affected leg down onto the mattress is missing. In the case of a thigh amputation, this can lead to the hip joint developing stiffening in a flexed position. The same applies to the knee joint if the stump of a lower leg hangs down predominantly in a bent position.

Exercises for people with leg amputation

You can do the following things to maintain and promote optimal joint mobility.

  • Make sure that the stump is laid flat on the mattress. Don't put a pillow under your leg. This promotes the stiffening of the hip joint in the flexed position.
  • Pillows in the back should be avoided. This causes the pelvis and hips to tilt in an unnatural position.
  • If the person concerned still often sits in a wheelchair, a board should be placed under the buttocks during a lower leg amputation that protrudes far beyond the edge of the wheelchair that the lower leg stump can just be placed on it. Predominantly bent posture stiffens the knee joint.
  • For the same reason, sitting on the edge of the bed with the leg hanging down or placing the amputated leg on the crutches should be avoided.
  • Do not put a pillow between your legs. Do not cross your legs while sitting. This provokes the shortening of the muscles that are needed for the lateral spreading and joining of the thighs (abductors and adductors).
  • If possible, people who have had a thigh amputation should often lie on their stomachs. This causes a stretch in the hip joint. After a lower leg amputation, lying on your back with your legs straight is helpful to straighten the knee joint.
  • If you notice that the stump often changes into an undesirable position by itself, e.g. being pulled unintentionally, weigh it down with a sandbag in between. This will bring the joint into the required position. Make sure that the weight does not cause any pressure points.
  • People who have had a leg amputation initially suffer from balance disorders and are at great risk of falling. If there are also acquired bad postures and obstructive behavior patterns, the risk of falling increases. Learning to walk with a prosthesis is made even more difficult.

Further help with amputations

The Federal Association for People with Arm or Leg Amputation e.V. offers help and support for life after an amputation on its homepage. If you wish, contact with other affected people in your area can be established in advance of an amputation, who can help you with tips and advice from their own experience. Make contact as soon as possible.

Created by: Curendo editorial team. Even if we try to ensure that the content of this blog is always up to date, the articles always reflect the status on the date of the update. This article was last updated on 11/07/2014.