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Information for lower limb amputees and their families

The following pages offer a wealth of information concerning what to expect before, during, and after amputation surgery.

The most important goal of your entire treatment—from the operation to rehabilitation, to the fitting of your prosthesis—is to restore your mobility.

Your therapy team, which includes your doctors, therapists, prosthetists—and of course, you and your loved ones—will help you achieve the most independence possible, so that you can lead an active and mobile life. On average, this rehabilitation process takes between two to six months, although this can be affected by various factors, including your level of motivation and how well your prosthesis fits.

Recommendations with regard to your therapy and rehabilitation are provided below. However, the instructions from your rehabilitation team always take priority since this team is best able to evaluate your individual situation.

Before amputation

Initial examinations

If you are to undergo planned amputation surgery, you will be examined in detail several times before the surgery. Your doctors will explain what will happen both during and after the operation. Of course, if you’ve had a traumatic accident, your conversations will occur after the surgery.

During these discussions, you have the opportunity to ask any questions which are important to you. It’s a good idea to take notes of what you want to ask the doctor before the discussions so that you don't forget anything. Remember that it’s their job to explain it all clearly to you.

Targeted preparation

If possible, you should begin doing those therapy exercises you’ll use after amputation surgery before your surgery takes place. That way you can strengthen your muscles in advance. It also makes sense to practice moving properly from the bed to the wheelchair as soon as possible. The timely training of such activities can make the time after the operation considerably easier on you. Ask your doctor and your physical therapist which exercises are right for you.

It’s also a good idea to talk to a prosthetist before the amputation about which types of prostheses might be right for you.

Psychological support

An amputation is a big change in your life and it may be helpful to get psychological counseling. Counseling can help you work through any issues or fears you may have, while taking some of the weight off of your friends and family—and yourself.

Talking to other amputees

We also recommend that you talk with peers who have also undergone amputation surgery. It is good to hear how others deal with the situation, and in many cases they’ll also be able to share tips on everything from using your prosthesis to getting the right fit. Talk to your therapy team about how best to get in contact with peer support groups.

After amputation
Fitting and rehabilitation