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What happens in the weeks immediately following the amputation?

The weeks immediately afterwards
What happens in the weeks immediately following the amputation?
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What do I need to know about healing wounds?

The weeks immediately afterwards
What do I need to know about healing wounds?
read more

What happens in the weeks immediately following the amputation?

Partial foot amputee with a therapist

A return to normality

The way back to normal life begins immediately after the partial foot amputation. The first few weeks are crucial in determining how well you'll live with the amputation later on. To ensure you'll soon be able to walk, ride a bike or drive a car again, the wound must heal and the muscles have to be built up again. This requires strength and patience.

After the amputation, you'll need bed rest for a few days and cannot put any weight on the foot at all. Fortunately, there'll be all the helpers you need at your bedside to support you. Nobody can say in advance how long you'll have to stay in bed, or how long it will take for the wound to heal and when you can walk, drive a car, ride a bike or go to work again. But one thing is for certain: the more active and positive you are, the faster your rehabilitation will progress.

Rehabilitation after the partial foot amputation: practice makes perfect

All efforts initially focus on healing the wound. But even during this stage, a physiotherapist will perform mobility exercises with you in order to ensure that your muscles do not wither and that the joints remain mobile despite the long period of inactivity. Later the physiotherapist will practice alternative movements and train your residual limb muscles so that you can confidently walk with a prosthesis.

Equally importantly, the physiotherapist will need to train your perception of the residual limb. This is so new that your brain is unable to process the messages from the nerves at first. But feeling your foot very accurately is of crucial importance for your health – and for the subsequent fitting of a prothesis or orthopaedic device.

As soon as the wound is fully healed and you're able to support your weight on the residual limb, you'll be fitted with a prosthesis. This is something you should gradually get used to.

It may take anywhere between six weeks and three months before you can be fitted with a long-term prosthetic solution. You'll probably be provided with a special partial foot relief shoe for this transitional period. You can walk in this shoe without overburdening the wound. This is also the time for occupational therapy. The occupational therapist will help you develop your dexterity and will practice everyday and work-related movements with you. With your therapist's support, you'll regain control of your life day by day.

Incidentally, participating in gait training and consultations with an occupational trainer, psychologists and, where applicable, family assistants are also part of the rehabilitation process. As is examining your past lifestyle: Do you have a healthy diet? Are you a smoker? Do you drink too much alcohol or take unnecessary medication?

No matter how important all the experts are, your active participation plays a larger role in your rehabilitation.