Artificial Leg – Prosthesis
Use of an artificial leg can be a great addition to the life of a recent amputee. Losing mobility is a major blow to someone who had been able to move freely for most of their life. This can be a depressing and difficult adjustment. However, an artificial leg offers a person in this situation a second chance at independence.
However, walking with an artificial leg is quite a bit different from the mechanics of their previous gait. There have been some great advancements in prosthetic technology which can get a person back to running, playing sports, and navigating their days much in the same way as before.
The transition between the two stages of life can be difficult, but navigable with a little bit of focused effort. So here is what you can expect as you work to become comfortable with a new artificial leg.
A Proper Fit Is Essential
You wouldn’t want to walk around all day in an ill-fitting shoe, would you? The same idea applies to artificial legs. A prosthesis that doesn’t fit with the applied joint will be uncomfortable and make normal movements more difficult. Work closely with your doctor so the proper adjustments can be made to ensure a proper fit.
This will decrease the likelihood of skin irritation at the contact point as well as the possibility of accidents. A proper fit will require ongoing attention. Maintenance will keep your prosthetic in top condition while also providing continuing comfort. This includes check-up visits with your doctor as well as routine cleaning of the device. Walking will be much easier if the artificial leg is comfortable and properly attached.
Visit Bulow Orthotic & Prosthetic Solutions to learn more about our artificial leg options in Nashville, TN.
Start With Support
If you learned how to ride a bike, you’ll remember how awkward it was at first. Balancing didn’t make much sense as it was so different from how you balanced on your two feet. The addition of training wheels helped stabilize the bike until you were ready to balance on your own.
Learning to walk on an artificial leg will provide a similar experience. Balancing will feel different. Your muscles aren’t accustomed to stabilizing you without the help of the missing limb. And even though the artificial leg will help with support, there are other missing mechanisms that previously helped keep you upright.
This is why it’s recommended to start with supports. This usually takes the form of walking between parallel bars to provide support on both sides. But anything that will keep you from falling will help your body learn to balance itself.
Focus on Balance
This idea of balance is really important. In fact, it’s about half of the battle learning how to walk with an artificial leg. The joints and muscles throughout the leg, ankle, feet, and even your toes help to balance the rest of your body. Other parts of your body are going to have to account for the absence of these mechanisms.
So pay close attention to what areas are taking on new roles when keeping you upright. They will eventually become unconscious acts, but the initial period will take some effort.
You’re going to want to run out the door as soon as you are fitted for an artificial leg. It’s exciting. It’s empowering. However, it’s also difficult to become accustomed to the new manner of walking.
Start slowly. First focus on standing still. The body will need to adjust to find a comfortable center of balance. Walking requires an unconscious stability, and your body won’t be able to find that without taking it one step at a time, so to say.
And then when it comes time to take steps, don’t focus on the goal at the end of the room. Focus on the first step, and then the second step, and so on.
You’ll get to a point of comfort but it will take a little time. Be patient. These basic mechanics will set the stage for the rest of your life of walking.
Continue to Exercise
As we said, other areas of your body are going to have to account for some missing mechanics. This will involve some areas that might have previously been under-exercised. Readjusting to the new normal will take some time but you can give yourself the best chance at success by mindfully exercising various parts of your body.
The leg in question will need to be exercised because increased stress will be placed on the remaining area. Your body’s core as well as the other leg will be picking up a lot of the extra work, so those will need to be exercised as well.
Click here to read our previous blog post covering various exercises that will help you become more comfortable on your artificial leg.