In everyday life, we seldom walk on perfectly flat surfaces like you would find in a clinic gym. Depending on your lifestyle you will negotiate a lot of different obstacles like stairs, slopes, rough terrain, etc.
If you live in a specific environment, are working, have hobbies or sports which involve uncommon movements, your prosthesis should be able to function in these situations. This may require particular components (liner, lock, knee joint, foot, rotation adapter etc.) and adjustments to meet your individual requirements.
To gain the maximum benefit from the prosthetic components, it is also important you receive initial training and have support to develop your natural abilities.
When looking at a new prosthesis or modifying an existing one, it is important to discuss all your needs with your prosthetist. It is important to be realistic of your expectations as there are limitations of components and your own physical abilities.
During the initial discussion, the prosthetist will recommend to you a set of possible components and design a training plan.
If they are available, your prosthetist may also be able to demonstrate how the components function so you can begin to understand and prepare for active training.
The photo above shows a prosthetist demonstrating the functioning of new prosthetic components.
Once a decision is made, the limb building process can be started. A check prosthesis will be assembled to assess the appropriateness of the components. When your new check prosthesis is shown to you for the first time, it is important to know how to don and doff it properly. After the initial demonstration, your will train these skills under the prosthetist supervision.
When the check prosthesis is ready for a check walk and initially aligned, your prosthetist will show you how to use the new components.
During the check walk your skills will improve in a short period of time and the components will be dynamically adjusted. During this stage your prosthetist will assess how you walk and advise you if there are any abnormalities. If long term gait correction is required, they will refer you to a physiotherapist for specific and comprehensive training.
The photo above shows a prosthetist explaining to the amputee how to control their muscles in order to correct undesirable gait deviations.
Sometimes sophisticated components require several adjustments over a period of days/weeks as your understanding improves and your skills grow. At the end of the check walk and during the trial walk, your prosthetist will teach you how to use your components installed in the prosthesis. This training will be specific for everyday situations such as negotiating common obstacles, environmental barriers, specific work movements or sporting activities.
The photo above shows an amputee descending stairs during training session in the gym.
Some activities require long term training, special equipment or the presence of a trainer. During cooperative training, the trainer instructs the athlete while the prosthetist monitores the prosthesis and adjusts the components acording to the requirements of the amputee.
The photo above shows collaboration between an amputee athlete, his prosthetist and trainer.
The photo above demonstrates an amputee receiving initial training on how to ride a bicycle. The prosthetist is giving instructions and adjusting the prosthetic knee unit as required.
Your initial training may continue outdoors to allow your prosthetist the oportunity to fine tune your artificial leg. While the clinic gym is a great area to start in, it is important to ensure you can control your new limb in a real world setting.
When on the street we have to focus on what is happening around us and what surfaces we walk on to stay safe. Walking outdoors with a prosthetist allows you the chance to practice with the new limb and have adjustments made to the components to suit the environments you are likely to be walking through in the future.
The photo above shows the first training of walking down slope in the real environment. Prosthetist is following the amputee and securing him whilst he adapts to the functionality of the knee.
Amputee training is a vital aspect of successful prosthetic treatment.
The initial training you receive from your prosthetist and the more comprehensive training provided by a physiotherapist are just first steps. It is important to maintain and develop your new skills. This means implementing learned techniques in every day activity.
To keep you on track, having review appointments with your prosthetist will help identify and correct issues before they become a serious problem.