Get the facts about outpatient rehabilitation for limb loss.

If you’ve lost a limb, rehabilitation is an important part of the recovery process. The UPMC Rehabilitation Institute’s outpatient limb loss therapy program provides support for people after amputation.

The program contains both physical and occupational therapy. We work to help people regain strength, flexibility, and balance.

We also work to help their ability to perform everyday tasks. Our work begins before you get your prosthesis and continues after you get fitted for and receive your prosthesis.

The goal of outpatient limb loss therapy is to help you adapt to your new life and live with independence. Our team will work with you to help you reach your individual goals.

Learn more about outpatient limb loss therapy and its benefits.

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What’s Included in Outpatient Limb Loss Therapy?

Outpatient limb loss therapy at UPMC Rehabilitation Institute is a mix of both occupational and physical therapy. Our therapists are specially trained in rehabilitation after amputation and in working with prosthetics.

Every patient is different. Our team will work with you to set your individual goals for rehab and will tailor your therapy to meet those goals.

The therapy itself will focus on different types of skills, including:

  • Agility.
  • Balance and fall prevention.
  • Coordination.
  • Everyday functional activities.
  • Flexibility.
  • Mobility and walking.
  • Strengthening.

How do prosthetics fit into outpatient limb loss therapy?

Through outpatient limb loss therapy at UPMC Rehabilitation Institute, we will help you prepare for your life with a prosthesis. When you receive your prosthesis, we will teach you how to use and manage it, preparing you for long-term success. Our therapists have training and experience in working with prosthetics.

The Steps of Outpatient Limb Loss Therapy

Rehabilitation after limb loss often begins in the hospital after an amputation procedure. Those earliest days of rehab focus on critical functional exercises as well as wound control and physical and emotional pain.

Outpatient rehabilitation for limb loss is the next step of the process. We continue the work that begins in the hospital or home and help people prepare for a prosthesis and learn how to use it.

Pre-prosthesis work in outpatient limb loss therapy

During this phase of the process, your therapy team will help you prepare for life with a prosthetic. This stage is an important part of the rehabilitation process because it can improve long-term outcomes.

During pre-prosthesis work, you will continue to increase your limb’s mobility without the prosthesis. Your therapist will work to strengthen and stretch your amputated limb so that it is ready for the prosthesis.

You will continue to focus on exercises like strengthening, balance, mobility, and function. For people with lower-limb amputations, therapy may include the use of walking aids. This can help determine the best prosthesis for them in the long run.

Your therapists will consult with your doctors to determine when you are ready for your prosthesis fitting.

Prosthesis fitting and prosthesis training

When you are ready for a prosthesis, you will meet with a specialist for fitting. They will measure your remaining limb and prescribe a prosthetic that will fit you comfortably and allow you to function at your best.

When you receive your prosthesis, you will continue your rehabilitation. Your rehabilitation team will work with you to help you get used to the prosthesis and learn how to use it.

You’ll continue to do many of the same types of exercises — now using the prosthesis. And these will focus on balance, flexibility, mobility, strength, and function.

You’ll also initiate walking and mobility training. The goal is to help you to gain independence with your prosthetic.

In addition to continuing with your exercises, you’ll also learn how to care for and manage the prosthetic itself.

Long-term prosthesis management

Outpatient limb loss therapy at UPMC Rehabilitation Institute doesn’t end when you receive and learn how to use your prosthesis. If at any time you feel you need more therapy, you can contact us for help.

Also, prosthetic fit can change over time because of a variety of factors. If your prosthesis needs any adjustments, you can call your rehab doctor for help.

Benefits of Physical and Occupational Therapy After Limb Loss

Losing a limb is often a traumatic experience, both in the short term and long term. Occupational and physical therapy can help you manage post-amputation challenges and improve your long-term outcomes. Some of these benefits include:

  • Creating independence. Many people worry about their ability to become independent after losing a limb. Occupational and physical therapy can help you gain the ability to adapt to your new situation. You will learn how to use and manage a prosthesis and how to function independently.
  • Emotional support. Losing a limb doesn’t just have a physical impact — it can also pose emotional and mental challenges. Occupational and physical therapy can help you with your motor skills and muscles. It can also provide ways for you to manage any emotional pain. At UPMC, our monthly Amp Up! support group helps people deal with the challenges of limb loss. The group includes amputees, current and former patients, prosthetists, and more.
  • Helping to regain mobility. Walking is something that many people take for granted. But for people with lower-limb amputation, walking can pose an immense challenge. Physical therapy can help you move with a prosthesis. If you need a wheelchair, walker, crutches, and/or cane to supplement your prosthesis, we can help you learn how to use them.
  • Improving everyday function. Our limbs perform so many everyday tasks. Think about everything you do: getting out of bed, using the stairs, brushing your teeth or hair, using the bathroom, cooking, and more. Losing a limb can make those tasks difficult. Occupational therapy can teach you the tools to manage those everyday activities to the best of your ability.
  • Injury prevention. Not knowing how to properly move with and/or use a prosthesis could put you at risk for injury. Through rehabilitation, you can lessen your injury risk from slips, falls, and/or other accidents.
  • Pain management. After an amputation, you may experience pain in your remaining limb. You may also have phantom pain in the limb that is no longer there. Through outpatient limb loss therapy, we can teach you techniques that can help you avoid or manage pain.
  • Returning to work and activities. If you want to return to work or to a sport or activity you enjoy, rehabilitation can help. Physical and occupational therapy can help you regain your strength and your functional abilities. It can help you get back to what you want to do.

If you experience limb loss, the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute’s outpatient limb loss therapy program can help. Our experts will help create an individualized therapy program to fit your individual needs and goals. For more information or to request an appointment, visit us online

American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, Stages of Rehabilitation After Limb Loss. Link

About UPMC Rehabilitation Institute

The UPMC Rehabilitation Institute offers inpatient, outpatient, and transitional rehabilitation, as well as outpatient physician services so that care is available to meet the needs of our patients at each phase of the recovery process. Renowned physiatrists from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, as well as highly trained physical, occupational, and speech therapists, provide individualized care in 12 inpatient units within acute care hospitals and over 80 outpatient locations close to home and work.