How to Learn to Walk on a Prosthetic Leg
Learning to live with a prosthetic leg can be a difficult and emotional time for a recent amputee. Besides the psychological effects of losing a limb, the physical aspect of learning how to walk can often be overwhelming. Working with a physical therapist, you can regain at least some portion of the life you were used to before losing a leg and get back to doing the things you love.
Practice putting weight on your prosthesis as you hold onto a sturdy object, such as a counter or a chair with both hands. Use parallel bars if you’re working with a physical therapist. Stand with your weight equally on both legs, then shift your weight to your prosthesis. Do the same while holding on with only one hand.
Use only a few fingers to balance yourself as you practice more weight-bearing on your artificial limb. Put most of your weight on your sound leg, and balance yourself on the parallel bars using only a few fingers on one hand. Shift your weight to the prosthetic leg. Grab onto the bars at any time if you feel unstable.
Do side walking exercises by holding onto one parallel bar or another support with both hands. Put your weight on your sound leg, then slide your prosthetic leg out to the side. Transfer your weight to that leg, then slide your sound leg toward your prosthetic leg. Repeat this for several steps. When you feel comfortable, begin taking your hands off the support as you do this exercise.
Stand between the parallel bars and step forward with your prosthetic leg. Transfer your weight to that leg as you hold onto the bars for support. Step forward with your sound leg past your prosthetic leg and then transfer your weight to your sound leg.
Practice walking as you slowly decrease the amount of support from your arms on the parallel bars. Transition from holding most of your body weight on your arms to using only one arm, to using just a few fingers on each hand. When you feel comfortable, practice walking as your hands hover over the parallel bars in case you need support.
Consult a doctor or physical therapist before beginning any exercises for a prosthetic leg for the first time.
- Consult a doctor or physical therapist before beginning any exercises for a prosthetic leg for the first time.
- Horsche/iStock/Getty Images