Our Guide to Preparing For Life With a Prosthesis – What to Know

After amputation, a new life awaits those who have lost one or more of their limbs. When you lose a part of our body, a prosthesis becomes your new extension. There’s no denying that the transitional period can be difficult for many. If you’ve recently lost a limb, it’s crucial to prepare for the day you’ll be fitted for a prosthesis. Preparation is key and is crucial to the periods both before and after surgery. 

Although much of the preparation is mental, there are still a few other things you’ll have to do to ready yourself for your prosthesis. Here are a few things you should know:

The Planning Process

The planning process requires the coordination of a surgeon, a prosthetist, and a physical therapist. The surgeon will perform the actual amputation while the prosthetist will design, fit, build, and adjust the prosthesis. During the entire process, your physical therapist will be by your side, assisting you in doing exercises before and after the surgery. He or she will also help you learn to use the prosthesis when the time comes.

It’s important for your team to discuss things with you beforehand so the amputation and rehabilitation process goes as smoothly as possible.

Exercising Before and After Surgery

You will need to exercise before and after your amputation. The goal is to increase muscle strength and flexibility because the more strong and flexible you are, the easier it will be for you to adjust to life with a prosthesis. 

Physical therapist-prescribed exercises can also help reduce swelling in the residual limb, while also preventing the tissues in the residual limb from shortening. In most cases, the exercises you have to do will depend on the type of amputation that was performed.

Preparing For Your Prosthesis After Surgery

A prosthesis can be worn soon after the surgery while your residual limb heals. Such a device can also be fit for long-term use when there is reduced swelling in the limb. 

A shrinker or an elastic bandage should be worn over the residual limb while there is still swelling. The compression helps to increase circulation and ease pain, reducing the symptoms of phantom limb.

Preparatory and Permanent Prosthesis

Once the swelling in your residual limb goes down, you may get fitted for a temporary prosthesis. This prosthesis is typically lightweight and easy to use, which is why some experts think it helps people learn to use a permanent prosthesis faster. 

Later on, this prosthesis is replaced with a permanent prosthesis, one that has higher-quality components. Alternatively, patients can choose to use a prosthesis with permanent components, but with a temporary socket and frame.

Using a Prosthesis 

When the prosthesis is delivered, you will then be taught the basics of using the prosthesis, which will include the following:

  • How to put the prosthesis on
  • How to take it off
  • How to walk with it
  • How to care for the skin of the residual limb and the prosthesis

Your physical therapist and occupational therapist will likely be the ones helping you to grow accustomed to life with a prosthesis. Their help will be invaluable for learning how to care for your prosthetic and residual limb.


Learning how to use a prosthetic is just the beginning of the recovery process. Amputees also need to undergo rehabilitation for amputation. This is coordinated by an occupational or physical therapist, along with the prosthetist.

The rehabilitation process itself entails different exercises designed to strengthen your muscles and maintain flexibility in the residual limb. Your team of professionals will also teach you how to use the prosthesis and assist you in your daily activities. Along with this is counselling or psychotherapy, which will help round out your care and make it easier to come to terms with the loss of your limb and life with a prosthetic.

Adjusting to life with a prosthesis can be difficult, but preparation truly is key. With our guide, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect, which will hopefully ease your anxieties and help you approach recovery with confidence. 

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