Certainly, any therapist is "qualified" to provide limb loss physical therapy, but can they help you achieve the best possible results. As specialists in limb loss rehabilitation we urge patients to choose only therapists that have extensive training and experience in limb loss rehabilitation. Why? This individual understands prosthetic gait; which differs from normal gait, and they know how to sequentially build proper muscle function to support good prosthetic gait mechanics. The net result is that a limb loss specialist knows how to help develop the most optimal gait possible.
What not to accept
If you are currently participating in a limb loss rehab program there are a few things you should know about what not to accept from a therapist. Many inexperienced therapists will focus on just getting you walking instead of training you and your muscles to support a proper prosthetic gait. An inexperienced therapist will put a gait belt around a patient's waist and walk beside them around a PT gym. While this certainly ensures that the patient can walk, it isn't teaching the patient the right techniques to building a safe and efficient prosthetic gait. Expect more out of your therapy and you'll get more out of life.
What to expect
A limb loss gait-training specialist will teach you how to walk. They'll ensure you are properly transferring your weight onto the prosthesis through the use of various exercises and train you to take equal steps. They'll instruct you on proper limb advancement along with how to isolate the proper stabilizing muscles which promote the development of a stable gait and helps you control your hips and shoulders. They will focus not only on the prosthesis, but the overall body functions and what is happening at each phase of your gait. They'll continually analyze your prosthetic alignment and contact your Prosthetist when changes are necessary.
Gait and prosthetic training transitions a patient through the use of various assistive devices. Some patients will start by walking with the use of parallel bars, while others will use a walker. When you're ready, a specialist will wisely transition you from a walker to a cane. From a cane they would teach you to walk with no assistive device, and then challenge you with environmental barriers that will make sure you are safely and confidently walking in the community. When a patients abilities supports prosthetic use beyond simple level surface walking, a knowledgeable therapist will challenge you with higher-level activities to maximize balance and mobility.
If you are interested in the therapy services offered by Advanced Prosthetics Center, LLC and want to see what we can do for you visit our Physical Therapy page.