Taking your first steps with a prosthetic leg
Your first steps with a prosthetic leg will be exciting and a moment to celebrate. We encourage you to bring a camera to capture the special moment! Many people feel both excited and apprehensive at taking their first steps. Learning to trust your prosthesis will take time and comes from experience. During the process you will learn a little more about prostheses and life with a prosthesis. Continue to ask questions of your rehabilitation team. You aren’t expected to be an expert at this stage, so rely upon the experience of your team members.
Hard work pays off
When learning to walk on a prosthesis, the goal is to walk with a natural walking pattern or “gait,” which will expend less energy. The higher the level of your amputation, the more difficult it may be to master your prosthesis. With less bone and fewer muscles remaining, other body parts need to compensate to move your limb and prosthetic device.
Remember that you have been recovering from amputation, which is a major surgery, so your energy level and stamina may be low. Post-amputation, you are learning new movements and exercises that require a lot of energy, and it is normal to feel fatigued. Perseverance, practice and adhering to the prescribed exercises are important to help you progress.
The right technique
During your first steps you will receive guidance from your prosthetist, physical therapist or your rehabilitation team. They will monitor your progress and be by your side. It is essential that you learn the right technique and a natural gait. It is easier to learn to walk correctly at the beginning than to unlearn a bad habit later. Take your time and master the movements. Remember, learning to use a prosthesis is not a race.
While innovative prosthetic technology is getting closer, it is still not possible to completely mirror a natural walking gait. But the right exercises, technique and perseverance, can help you walk as naturally as possible. By working with the medical professionals, you can learn to walk more efficiently, expending less energy so you can walk farther, and minimising strain on your sound side, back and hips.