Main Content

Recovering After Lower Limb Amputation

Activities of daily living

You may have to learn new ways to do daily activities after your amputation. Here is what you will learn to help you with the activities of daily living.

Transfer training

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

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

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

Your therapist will help determine any aids or equipment you may need.

Getting dressed

You can start to wear your own clothes soon after 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 to bathe and shower safely. This could mean getting help from a support person or using adaptive equipment, such as a safety bars and a bath seat or bench.

Getting around

You will learn how to use a wheelchair 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 limb and prevent tightening of your knee.

Once your therapy team decides it is safe, you may learn to hop on your remaining foot using a walker or crutches.

Wheelchair safety

It’s important to practice wheelchair safety to prevent a fall. If you fall, you could hurt yourself and delay healing. Hurting yourself could mean you need to wait longer for a prosthesis.

When you are learning to use a wheelchair, always have someone nearby to help you.

While using your chair, remember to:

  • go slowly
  • know what is going on around you
  • be careful going through doorways and around corners, especially in busy areas
  • go up or down the middle of ramps, not along the sides

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

Never use the brakes to slow down because you could fall out of your chair. Instead, use your hands on the hand rims to slow your speed (such as when going downhill).

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

Before buying or borrowing a wheelchair, have an occupational or physical therapist help you find a chair that will best meet your needs. Make sure the wheelchair has anti-tippers, so it does not tip backwards.

Chores and daily tasks

Regular tasks such as shopping, cooking, laundry, housekeeping, banking, and getting around in your community can be challenging after amputation.

You may need help at first. And you may need to find other ways to do these tasks. For example, you could do online banking instead of travelling to the branch, or sitting while you are preparing a meal instead of standing at the kitchen counter.

Talk with your healthcare team about what community supports are available. There are many types of companies that can help with these tasks. (Some will have a fee.)​

Go to Top