Amputation Rehabilitation

Today, more than 1.7 million people are living with an amputated limb as a result of trauma, disease, or tumor. The goal of physical therapy treatment following surgical amputation is often to maximize muscle strength and flexibility in the remaining portion of the limb without causing overuse, skin breakdown, or joint pain. Rehabilitation also teaches ambulation skills, improves balance, and prepares patients for prosthesis. Bandages may be worn 24 hours a day to shrink the residual limb to fit a prosthetic and prevent edema. Amputation rehabilitation also may include stump and prosthesis care, which can help to minimize stump pain. The most common causes of stump pain are a poorly fitting prosthetic socket, neuroma, or bone spur. Amputation patients also may experience phantom limb sensation and pain. While phantom limb sensation is not harmful, it can last for several months or several years. Phantom limb pain can be extremely painful and difficult to treat. Some doctors believe that patients who experienced a lot of pain before the amputation, during the operation, or post-surgery are more likely to experience phantom limb pain. Exercising, massaging the stump, applying a vibrating mechanism, and performing ultrasound can be effective in reducing phantom limb pain.