Home Mobility Considerations for the New Amputee

Posted on: May 14th, 2015 by JPO Blogger

new amputee home mobility


When a patient returns home after lower-limb amputation surgery, many things are going to be different, including getting around the house.  Our goal at JP&O is to make sure you and your family are prepared for all considerations involved in being a new amputee.

Many amputees will progress through rehabilitation to effective use of a limb prosthesis, which will allow them to move through life on two legs much as they did before. Others, due to age, medical issues, physical weakness or other limitations, may not. Either way, most all amputees who return home will arrive in a wheelchair, and many will continue to use that and other mobility aids to support their prosthetic progress.

Here are some mobility considerations to think about when planning for a new amputee’s return home.

Wheelchairs – Some amputees require powered wheelchairs, but the majority can get around well with a lightweight manual chair incorporating some special adjustments and modifications, notably:

  • axle and seat adjustments to accommodate the amputee’s higher center of gravity resulting from the limb loss;
  • an elevated leg rest to prevent the still-healing residual limb from hanging down, which can increase swelling and prolong healing time; and
  • a slide-out residual limb support to prevent knee contractures and help reduce swelling.

Walkers – Once the new amputee is fitted with either a temporary and final prosthetic limb, a walker can be used to facilitate at-home ambulation over short distances. Various accessories can be selected to provide added safety and comfort, including hand brakes, shock absorbent tires and a flip-down padded seat. As the amputee progresses through prosthetic rehabilitation, in home ambulatory support may be reduced to crutches or even a cane.

Ramps – Permanent or temporary inclines can be installed to facilitate wheelchair access to the home as well as eliminate the need for negotiating steps wearing a prosthesis.

Home modifications – These forms of mobility support will likely entail some accommodation in the home. For example:

  • Rearranging furniture will provide added clearance for getting around with a mobility aid.
  • Some doorways may need to be widened and doors re-hinged or removed altogether to provide wheelchair access.
  • Area rugs, wires and cables, and floor clutter can pose a barrier to safe mobility and should be removed.
  • Grab rails can enhance safety and ease of transfers in key areas, such as on steps leading to the home entrances, in the bathroom by the commode and bath or shower, and by the bed.
  • In the kitchen, removing cabinets under the sink will make it more easily accessible from a wheelchair. The kitchen table, typically lower than countertops, can be used for food preparation while seated.
  • Bathroom aids include a shower chair or bench to facilitate transfers to bath or shower. For ambulatory amputees, a shower leg can enable safe bathing while standing. Grab bars, either permanent or removable, are important for safe transfers into or out of bath or shower.

We hope these tips have helped you understand and prepare.  Your comfort and safety at home is our top priority.  If you have any questions about how to prepare your home for the new amputee in your family, contact JP&O today!

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