Strength training can help some amputees regain physical fitness.

To put it extremely mildly, amputation surgery can be life-changing and sometimes very difficult for patients. Not only do they have to adapt to a new way of life, but they also have to learn how to care for the site in the aftermath. According to the Amputee Coalition, patients need to watch for wound drainage, must always ensure bandages and dressings are clean and dry, and that the site does not become inflamed or seeping. In the beginning, amputation wound care can take up most of a patient’s time, and he or she will most likely only be focused on what is happening in the present.

However, amputee patients who are in the later stages of recovery and have been cleared by their clinicians may start to use a prosthetic. This can be common in leg injuries, as many people will want to walk again. There are many strengthening exercises a patient can do in order to prepare the muscles and the limb for bearing weight, regaining balance and mobility, and working with a prosthetic. Of course, patients should first be certain that their clinician gives the go-ahead for any exercise after such a wound has healed.

Floor exercises

Many amputee patients work with a physical therapist who teaches them the kind of exercises that are best for their situation. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Hospital offered up some instructions on floorwork that is somewhat similar to yoga. Those aiming to strengthen lower extremities after a below-knee amputation may want to try a bridge leg lift, lying on their backs on the floor. The full leg is bent at the knee, foot flat on the floor. The other leg is kept straight and is lifted, and the individual lifts up his or her hips to form a bridge shape. The sound leg foot will be pushed firmly into the ground. This can help with back, buttocks and thigh strengthening.

Patients may also want to try core-strengthening exercises which can also benefit the amputated leg. The source advised trying a move where individuals complete a knee-to-chest motion, which can also be completed on the floor. The hands are underneath the shoulders in almost a plank post, while the sound leg is bent at the knee, shin resting on the floor. The individual then curls in the amputated leg, bringing the knee to the nose and curling in the back at the core. Then, the participant stretches the limb out behind, bringing up the chin and flattening the back. This is repeated several times.

To further strengthen the upper body, individuals may want to try kneeling push ups, where the amputated limb is rested on a pillow, while the opposite leg is bent at the knee with the shin on the floor. The participant then bends his or her elbows, keeping the core tight, and lowering the upper body to the floor. This is repeated as advised.

Benefits to exercise

Amputees can reap many benefits from regular exercise. The Hager Clinic said that new amputees should remember that physical fitness takes time and it will be a gradual process to return to peak levels because recovery from such a procedure can take several months. Individuals should work with a physical therapist and their clinician to determine the right kind of exercise and the pace, according to the source. For amputees, exercise can also help balance mood and prevent weight gain. Some who gain weight find that it  can complicate prosthesis fitting and lead to overall low self-esteem. The Hager Clinic advised that amputees may find swimming an accessible activity, when they have been cleared by a clinician. Swimming is non-impact, and it also provides a cardiovascular workout as well as resistance.

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