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Recovering After Lower Limb Amputation

Activities of Daily Living

You may have to learn new ways to do some of your daily activities after your amputation. You will learn how to do the following to help you with the activities of daily living.

Transfer training

You will learn how to safely move from one surface to another:

  • in and out of a wheelchair
  • in and out of the bath tub or shower
  • on and off a bed
  • in and out of a vehicle
  • on and off a toilet and chair

You may need aids or equipment to safely do activities of daily living. You can rent, borrow or purchase different aids and adaptive equipment. Depending on your progress, you may need to get some permanent equipment for your home to help you with your daily activities. Your therapist will help you find any aids or equipment you may need.

Dressing training

You can start to wear your own clothes soon after the surgery. Choose loose and comfortable clothing that is easy to put on and take off. If needed, your therapist may recommend some equipment to help you get dressed.

Bathing and hygiene

After your surgery, you may need help from someone else or adaptive equipment, such as a bath seat or safety bars, to bathe and shower.

Getting around

You will learn how to use a wheelchair to get around while in the hospital. Wheeling yourself around in a wheelchair can be hard work, but it is good exercise for your arms, heart and lungs.

If you still have your knee joint, you may also have an amputee board with a cushion to support your residual limb and prevent tightening of your knee. Once you recover from surgery you will learn to use a walker or crutches.

Wheelchair safety

It’s important to practice wheelchair safety to prevent a fall. If you fall, you could injure your residual limb or wound, and delay healing. Hurting yourself could delay getting a prosthesis.

Use the wheelchair brakes when you:

  • are stopped
  • plan to get in or out of the wheelchair
  • want to pick something up off the ground
  • want to reach for something
  • are in a wheelchair taxi, bus, rail transit or other vehicle

Move your footrests and amputee board out of the way when you:

  • get out of your wheelchair
  • want to pick something up off the ground
  • want to reach for something

Other safety tips to remember:

  • Go slow and know what is going on around you. Be careful going through doorways and around corners, especially in the busy halls of the hospital.
  • Never use the brakes to slow down as you could fall out of your chair.
  • Use your hands on the hand rims to slow your speed when going downhill.
  • Wear bike gloves to protect your hands.
  • Go up or down the middle of a ramp, not along the sides.

Before buying or borrowing a wheelchair, have an occupational or physical therapist help you find a chair that will best meet your needs.

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