Learning to walk is something we think we’ve already accomplished as were toddlers. But for amputees, it’s not something to be taken for granted - it’s something that has be learned all over again.
Walking with a prosthetic device can be difficult and challenging at first, but with practice, advice, and help from professionals, it’s definitely possible. You’ll be surprised at how well you’ll be able to walk once you get used to your new device.
Here are tips for learning to walk again with a prosthesis.
Start Slow and Work Your Way Up
When we rehab patients with new devices, we always start slow.
The first thing to learn how to do is stand on your own two feet. You’ll feel unbalanced and unsteady, but that’s natural. We typically let people sit in chairs and then use their upper body to raise themselves out of the chair and stand using handholds or bars for support.
The next step is to learn how to stand and balance without holding onto something. This may be difficult because your legs might not be in good enough condition, strength-wise, to do it, but with practice, you’ll get there.
Then, we start walking. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Likewise, the journey to walking normally begins with one step, and then another, as we guide you along using bars for support.
At BioTech, we have rooms dedicated for this purpose. We have long walkways and ramps with bars and mirrors to help you not only start walking safely, but also to check out your form and see how you’re doing.
Along the way, we give you a constant stream of advice - move that foot up a little more, take a bigger stride, etc., things to help you progress in walking.
Advice for When You Start Walking
So you’ve learned to walk with your prosthetist helping you - what next?
When you’re out and about, there are things you need to stay aware of so you can walk safely.
For starters, be mindful of the terrain. Even a small rock can cause you to stumble. Make sure you avoid debris in front of you. Again, it doesn’t take much to trip you up.
Also, take special care when you’re walking up a slope or down a slope. You’ll have to go slower at first, especially when going down a slope. Gravity isn’t your friend. Take longer strides going down so you have a better base for your body and work to drive your leading foot into the ground so it gets a nice, firm grip - and resist the urge to lean forward.
You can practice on different surfaces, too, like asphalt, tile, carpet, wood, etc. Additionally, you can practice how to get back on your feet if you fall, and how to carry things while walking and keeping your balance.
With regular practice and a lot of determination, you can overcome the challenge of walking again and develop a normal, confident stride like our patients. Others have gone before you and done it - and you can do it, too!
BioTech helps amputees walk again by designing well-fitting and effective prosthetic devices and guiding patients in learning to use them - and recognize their possibilities. Contact us to learn more.