Learning to use a prosthesis takes time, great effort, strength, patience and willpower. What you will be able to do while wearing a prosthesis will depend partly on the level of your amputation. With a below-knee level amputation, doing what you used to do takes 25–40% more energy than it used to. With an above-knee level amputation, it may take 68–100% more energy. Because doing what you used to do will take so much more energy, exercising and staying healthy are very important. Your strength, overall health and determination are even more important than the level of amputation. The best prosthesis in the world will never be as good as your own natural limb, but when combined with your patience and willpower, it can HELP you do whatever you want to do.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When will I get a prosthesis?
A: After surgery, after your wound has healed and after you have prepared your residual limb with exercises and wrapping, you can begin the process of getting a prosthesis. This is usually four to five weeks after surgery, but it can be months or longer depending on where you live.

Q: How long will the prosthesis last?
A: On average, most prostheses last three to five years. This may vary depending on the type of prosthesis and your level of activity.

Q: What do I need to do to get ready for a prosthesis?
A: • Take care to prevent contractures (when a joint becomes stuck in one position).
• Wrap your residual limb to make sure it forms into the best shape for wearing a prosthesis.
• Exercise to strengthen your whole body and the specific muscles you need to walk with a prosthesis. Your physical therapist will give you exercises specific to your body’s needs.

Q: Is it easy to learn to use a prosthesis?
A: You will need to learn how to:
• Take care of your prosthesis
• Put on and take off your prosthesis
• Fall down and get up again safely
• Perform self-care activities, such as getting dressed
• Walk on different types of surfaces (grass, inclines, curbs)

Q: Will I need to use a wheelchair?
A: If you have lost both legs, you will probably use a wheelchair at least some of the time. Also, patients who have weak muscles or problems with endurance may need to use a wheelchair to get around in the community.

Q: Will I need to use crutches?
A: If you have an above-knee level amputation, you may sometimes find it easier to use crutches. If you have a below-knee level amputation, you may need to use crutches. For example, you may wish to use crutches when the residual limb becomes sore, when taking a shower, if you have to get up in the middle of the night or if you just need a break from wearing your prosthesis.

Q: Once I have my prosthesis, then what?
A: Plan on making follow-up visits to a prosthetics center a normal part of your life. Proper fit of the socket and good alignment will make the prosthesis useful to you. Small adjustments can make a big difference. Take care of small problems with your prosthesis promptly. It is best not to wear your prosthesis when it needs repairs or to be replaced because you will harm your residual limb and other parts of your body.

Q: If I have a blister or red spot on my residual limb, should I stop wearing my prosthesis?
A: You can try to adjust how the prosthesis fits over a sore spot with a little extra padding, but if the sore spot stays or gets worse, go back to the prosthetist and ask him/her to adjust it.

A prosthesis has these basic parts:
• The socket — your residual limb fits inside it
• The knee joint — for above knee amputees only
• The shank — replaces your lower leg and connects to the
prosthetic foot

Your prosthesis may have a cover or be shaped to resemble a leg. You may also have a strap or belt to keep the leg on.

New Technology

Technology has greatly advanced in the world of prosthetics, allowing persons following an amputation to perform almost any activity or sport that they want to do. Advances have been made in residual limb casting and 3-D laser scanning, socket design, knee suspension and foot mechanics, making the use of a prosthesis easier and less physically demanding.


There are almost limitless possibilities in recreational activities and
sports for people following an amputation. A partial list of recreational activities
you can enjoy includes:
• Fishing
• Golfing
• Basketball
• Scuba diving/snorkeling
• Water sports – wakeboarding, waterskiing, windsurfing,
kiteboarding, boating
• Canoeing/kayaking
• Running
• Walking
• Gardening
• Soccer
• Biking – road/mountain
• Skiing/snowboarding
• Swimming
• Tennis

For specific care questions and inquiries about additional activities, always consult with your physician.

By Kindred Hospital Rehabilitation Services