A lower-extremity amputation may be at the hip, above the knee, below the knee, the foot or simply a toe, according to the Merck Manuals. Home exercise for a lower extremity amputation will vary depending on the extent of the amputation, but should consist of exercises to increase your flexibility, strength, endurance and balance.
If your amputation allowed you to keep your knee, limit the amount of time your knee stays bent, advises Senior Step, a publication of the National Limb Loss Information Center. Spend time with your knee fully extended by stretching it out on a couch or chair for at least 20 minutes at a time.
All forms of lower extremity amputations require work on hip flexibility. Lie on your stomach for 10 to 20 minutes two times a day to help increase the flexibility of your hips, lower back and knees. Elevating your chest on one or two pillows will increase the stretch.
Leg and Hip Strengthening Exercises
All lower extremity amputees need exercises to strengthen the hip and legs, even if only one leg remains. Hip abduction requires lying on one side while raising and lowering the leg on top, advises the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center. An amputee exercising any length of leg can work the hip adductors by raising and lowering the bottom leg while lying on his side. He can also work the muscles on the front and back of his upper legs, known as the quadriceps and hamstrings, by lying on his back and raising one leg at a time and lowering it back to the floor.
No matter what kind of lower extremity amputation you have, you need to keep your stomach muscles strong, advises the Oklahoma Health Science Center. You can strengthen your abdominals using any form of sit-up. However, sit-ups can prove difficult if most or all of your leg was amputated. Hip stabilization during sit-ups requires the weight of both legs. Have someone hold down your amputated limb or place a weight on it to counteract this instability. You can injure yourself if you use your prosthesis during sit-ups.
Propelling a wheel chair or learning to walk again requires strong arm muscles. Good arm exercises include the use of resistance while elevating your arms over your head or out to the sides, performing wheel chair push-ups, or working out on exercise machines, advises Senior Step.
After any type of lower extremity amputation, you must relearn how your body balances. Many people have fallen because of balance issues after amputation, says Viki Laveane, a physical therapist at Elk Regional Health Center in St. Marys, Pennsylvania. You should practice everyday activities like reaching for objects while kneeling or standing on one leg. Practice these activities while standing on your good leg, as well as while standing on your prosthesis. Remember to take time to practice shifting weight on and off your prosthesis while walking, twisting side to side, climbing a stair or kicking a ball.
- The Merck Manual: Specific Problems
- University of Oklahoma Health Science Center: Preprosthetic Exercise Program
- Viki Laveane, PT; Elk Regional Health Center; St. Marys
- Amputee Coalition Of America: Senior Step - A Guide For Adapting To A Limb Loss