One of the primary concerns for many active people who lose their limbs is “what will I be able to do with my prosthetic?”. While we can't make any guarantees on every unique situation, we can confidently state that most patients return to doing what they love most after a properly-done fitting for prosthetic limbs.
Even with an artificial limb, anything is possible! The key is to follow the prosthetist's instructions and seek assistance if the comfort or fit is inadequate. Daily use and small goal setting help people become more confident in their abilities.
How Soon Will I Resume my Normal Routine After Receiving my Prosthetic Device?
You should return to a long-term normal level of functioning within a few months. However, your normal routine will be determined by the location of your amputation, your overall health and well-being, and the team surrounding you.
Your prosthesis will be a tool to help you regain independence and freedom. However, how quickly you can return to doing things like before your surgery depends on many factors. These can include your personal goals, your therapy team, the best fitting and right prosthetic for your needs, follow-up physical and mental care, and your determination.
The first year of recovery is difficult, and your body and mind will require top-notch prosthetic care, patience, and hard work to get you back to doing the things you enjoyed before your surgery.
Prosthetics Technological Advancement
Researchers are still advancing prosthetics around the world. Some enhancements are currently in limited use, while others are expected to be completed within the next decade or two. Some appear to be simple achievements, such as ankle joints with more natural movements for easier stair climbing. Other advanced prosthetics are more complex. These advancements further your ability to do more with your new prosthetic.
Motorized fingers that sense what the hand grasps are an example of a more complex design that allows for more control over the strength or delicateness of touch. Companies are also working on surgically implanted implants that integrate seamlessly with bones and nerves.
One day, permanent connections will be made to artificially designed limbs, thanks to the combination of research and the interface system to help the skin grow into a prosthetic's materials. This major biomedical engineering improvement would mean the end of skin sores caused by prosthetic movement. The brain would recognize the limb and work with it naturally.
Until then, here are some doable tips to make adjusting to your new hand prosthetic a lot easier:
Tips for Upper Limb Amputees to Do More
- Some amputees will choose Velcro over buttons or studs to dress themselves.
- Upper hand amputees who use one hand to eat will find that devices like a fork/knife combo make eating a lot easier.
- Some computer keyboards are specially made for people with only one arm.
- Shoes of ordinary quality laces can be replaced with specialized laces, or shoes with Velcro closures can be used instead.
- There are specialized boards available for tasks such as chopping and cutting.
- The opening of jars is so much easier for those with prosthetic hands to manage, thanks to the availability of specialized devices.
Exercise is Important
You will need to strengthen the remaining muscles so that you can stand and walk with a balanced and efficient gait. This will require some time and effort on your part. We recommend that every new amputee work with a physical therapist to aid in the learning process.
Take Care of Yourself
Your physical health is critical to your recovery after amputation. Make sure you get enough sleep and exercise to strengthen your body and mind. Also, make sure you eat a well-balanced diet to provide your body with the nutrients it requires to heal.
Watch Your Weight
During the initial recovery period after your amputation, you will likely be less active. During this time, you should keep an eye on your weight and be aware that socket fit can change depending on your weight. Even if you aren't as active, try to eat healthily. Once you've gotten used to the prosthesis, your activity level will return to normal.
Try Out New Hobbies
When you find a way to spend your time that is meaningful to you, making big life changes becomes easier. It could be a sport like swimming or biking, or something artistic like music or painting. Allow yourself a creative outlet to help you regulate and process your emotions.
Driving may be an important part of your independence. If you have medical approval and your health checks, you can reinstate your license. In some states/territories, people must retake their driver's license test and/or have restrictions placed on their licenses, such as 'automatic only' vehicles.
A vehicle can be tweaked to meet your specific needs. Many companies specialize in the re-fitting of wheelchair hoists, the installation of hand controls or spinner knobs, and left-foot accelerator pedals. Thankfully, some people can even ride their motorcycles again. Motorcycles and push bikes can also be modified if necessary.
A vehicle modification can differ depending on the age of the vehicle and the state in which you live. Some states provide financial assistance through their aid and equipment programs.
Recovery from an amputation can take time, especially the emotional aspect of coming to terms with life without a limb. Counseling can help you cope with the grief that comes with limb loss, as well as the changes to your appearance and lifestyle.