After surgery, there are four phases of the rehabilitation process. Last week we examined Phase 1: Post-operative Healing. Today, we will examine Phase 2: Preprosthetic Training.
Phase 2: Preprosthetic Training
In the preprosthetic phase, there are a number of factors that must be considered before the patient can be fitted for a new prosthetic limb. These include:
Edema is a problem because swelling puts pressure on the tissue and nerves and can cause a great deal of pain. If left untreated, the tissue will stretch to accommodate the increase in volume, and will result in excess tissue, which causes the prosthesis (artificial limb) to fit poorly. Of particular concern is severe edema, which can even result in tissue death.
The physical therapist will provide instructions for the proper application of compressive garments, such as elastic bandages and shrinker socks that shape the residual limb, which should be worn at all times unless otherwise directed by a physician.
Improving cardiovascular conditioning is the next step. Upper-extremity endurance is of particular importance, regardless of which limb is lost. The reason is that the patient will have to use some form of assistive device until he becomes proficient with his prosthesis. It takes a lot of energy to propel a wheelchair and walk with a walker and/or crutches. The strengthening program will include total body conditioning. Specific exercises will be developed to prepare the residual limb to be able to support full body weight while wearing a prosthesis. Once this process is completed, and the residual limb is fully healed and well-shaped, the patient will be fitted for the initial prosthesis.
Next week, we will examine the next phase of prosthetic rehabilitation, Basic Prosthetic Training.
If you are in need of post-operative prosthetic or orthotic rehabilitation, don’t wait for your family physician; visit Excel Rehabilitation Services on Burnside Ave. in Gonzales, Louisiana. You will receive one-on-one professional care from an experienced physical therapist!