Rehabilitation After Amputation

Rehabilitation after amputation of a limb is a challenge.

Our therapists at the Scott & White Division of Physical Therapy are specially trained to help you:

  • Regain independence
  • Return to leisure activities and employment
  • Restore confidence

After Your Surgery

In collaboration, our team of rehabilitation specialists will help you with:

  • Wound care and management
  • Physical and emotional adjustment to loss of limb
  • Physical therapy for
    • Strength
    • Stability
    • Coordination
  • Readiness for prosthesis

Reasons for Amputation

Amputation, or the surgical removal of a body part, has a wide variety of causes:


  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Buerger’s disease

Injuries or trauma

  • Accidents
  • Burns
  • Frostbite

Substance abuse

  • Alcohol
  • Steroids


  • Gangrene
  • Osteomyelitis


  • Osteosarcoma – tumors in the bone
  • Metastatic bone disease

Birth defects

Types of Lower-Limb Amputations


  • Removal of one or more toes
  • Affects walking, balance and stability

Syme’s ankle disarticulation

  • Removal of your foot at the ankle
  • Effective weight bearing
  • May use prosthesis

Below the knee

  • Removal of your lower leg above ankle but below knee
  • Full use of knee remains
  • May be difficult to bear entire body weight

Above the knee

  • Removal of your leg at thigh level or above knee
  • Stump cannot bear entire body weight
  • Can sit upright

Hip disarticulation

  • Removal of the entire leg at the hip
  • In some cases, the hip joint is retained:   
    • Better sitting capability
    • Allow for prosthesis

Early Rehabilitation

Your rehabilitation plan will be highly individualized.

Your medical team will assess you and develop a personalized plan customized to your needs.

When you are ready to begin rehab, our highly skilled, specially trained physical therapists will instruct you in a variety of activities that may include:

  • Bed mobility – proper positioning in bed to avoid contractures and bed sores
  • Transfers – moving from standing to chair, from bed to wheelchair, in and out of bathtub, etc.
  • Gait – walking with confidence and ease
  • Wheelchair skills – working efficiently and comfortably
  • Contracture prevention – avoiding permanent shortening of muscles due to lack of use
  • Inspection of non-involved extremity – checking for infection and contracture
  • Care of residual limb
    • Difference between weight-bearing and pressure-sensitive areas
    • Avoiding abrasions
  • Exercises
    • Strength
    • Range of motion
    • Endurance

Progression to Prosthetic Wear

Your medical team may recommend a custom-designed prosthesis artificial limb.

How quickly you progress to prosthetic wear is dependent on:

  • The condition of your residual limb
  • Safety
  • Your balance
  • Your overall functional level

Great advances in rehabilitation technology have led to artificial feet and legs that are more:

  • Ergonomic
  • Functional
  • Comfortable
  • Fashionable
  • Natural-looking

Working with Your Prosthetist and Therapist

In addition to working with your physical therapist, you’ll also be working with a certified prosthetist. A prosthetist is someone specially trained to:

  • Measure you for your prosthesis
  • Design and make your prosthesis
  • Fit your prosthesis and make adjustments
  • Educate you on use and care of your prosthesis
  • Service your prosthesis when needed

Together, your prosthetist and therapist will help you with:

Learning to Stand

  • Balance and coordination
  • Regaining your center of gravity
  • Standing on one limb

Learning to Walk

  • Systematic strengthening of trunk, pelvic and limb movements
  • Practicing on parallel bars
  • Managing stairs, curbs, ramps and hills
  • Handling falling
  • Learning how to turn

Improving the Finer Points

  • Learning how to run
  • Learning how to squat
  • Helping you return to the sorts of recreational activities you enjoy

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