Exercise Programs For Amputees

Overview

Exercising at home following an amputation can help you regain your strength and flexibility. With a lower limb amputation, you can perform most exercises without a prosthesis, as you will lie on your back or sit in a chair. Your fitness level will increase the more you exercise and work your body and your residual limbs. Exercises will also help strengthen your back, important after both arm and leg amputations, according to the National Amputee Centre. Consult your physical therapist before engaging in a home exercise routine to make sure the exercises are right for your condition.

Exercises for Hip And Back Alignment

If one or both your legs are amputated, you need to improve the extension of your knees, hips and back by lying flat on your back. Remain in this position for at least 30 minutes twice each day, then turn over and lie on your stomach for an additional 20 minutes. These exercises are simple but important to give your body a sense of alignment while being fully supported by the floor or mattress. You can prop up your chest with pillows to allow for easy breathing. This exercise will also help if you have an arm amputation, as having strong back muscles will help you support your artificial limb, notes Lakehead University Kinesiology Department.

Exercises to Strengthen Hip Abductors

To lift your pelvis from the ground, you must lie on your amputated limb and place a rolled-up thick towel under it to lift your pelvis, keeping your other leg extended. With this exercise you will engage your gluteus medius, which is the muscle located on the outer surface of your pelvis. Keep your pelvis forward and do not flex your hip. Perform this exercise on both sides of your body for a well-rounded exercise routine.

Exercises to Strengthen Abdominals

Strengthening your abdominal muscles will benefit your overall health and fitness level after an amputation. For these exercises, you need the help of a family member or physical therapist to hold down your amputated lower limb while you perform sit-ups. This is not necessary if you have an arm amputation. If you would rather perform your exercise routine alone and have a lower limb amputation, you can strap on weights to keep the amputated limb flat on the ground. Failing to keep this portion of the lower limb on the ground may cause your hips to become unstable, injuring your hips and core muscles.

Exercises for Arm Strength

If you are using a wheelchair to perform your daily activities after an amputation, you need to strengthen your arm muscles so that you don't get tired easily. The use of hand weights generates resistance as you lift your arms over your head and out to your sides. You can also lie flat on your stomach and perform a series of push-ups after your 20 minutes of hip and back alignment exercises.



 

 Upper-extremity Workout


Overview

Exercising after an arm amputation will help prevent muscular atrophy and provide the benefits of resistance training. You'll gain increases in both muscular endurance and strength. Incorporating these exercisesexercise program. into two weekly strength-training sessions will help you meet your fitness goals. Talk to your doctor before starting a new

Knee to Chest

The knee-to-chest exercise strengthens your abdominal muscles and your hip flexors, which may become weak after sitting in a wheelchair for an extended period. Sit up straight, tighten your abdominal muscles and lift your feet 6 inches off the ground. Straighten your legs and point your toes toward the ceiling. Bend your knees and pull them toward your chest, pausing when you can't pull them any further. Keeping your upper body stationary during this exercise helps isolate your abdominal muscles. Extend your legs in front of you and repeat without touching your feet to the ground.

Knee Extensions

Knee extensions strengthen your quadriceps, located above your knees. Rest both feet on the ground, straighten your back and tighten your abdominal muscles. Lift both feet off the ground, flex your ankles and point your toes toward the ceiling. Lift both feet directly in front of their corresponding hips, stopping before your legs reach full extension. Fully extending your legs may cause your knees to lock, increasing your risk of injury. Pause for three seconds, then lower your feet to the ground. Wear ankle weights to increase exercise intensity.

Shoulder Shrugs

Shoulder shrugs strengthen your trapezius muscles, located on your upper back. Sit up straight, rest both feet on the ground and tighten your abdominal muscles. Relax your shoulders and lift your chin parallel to the ground. Slowly lift your shoulders toward your ears, then immediately lower them. Increase exercise difficulty by asking a partner to press on your shoulders as you shrug them toward your ears.

Abdominal Bracing

Abdominal bracing strengthens your stomach muscles and the muscles that surround your spine. Sit up straight, and relax your stomach muscles. Immediately tighten your stomach muscles, bracing yourself as if someone is about to punch you. Hold for five seconds, relax and repeat this pattern for 30 seconds.

Isometric Quadriceps Contractions

Isometric quadriceps contractions strengthen the area above your knees. Sit up straight and tighten your abdominal muscles. Squeeze the muscles above your knees and hold for 10 seconds. Release and repeat this pattern until you complete 60 seconds.



Lower-extremity Workout 


Overview

A lower-extremity amputation may be at the hip, above the knee, below the knee, the foot or simply a toe, according to the Merck Manuals. Home exercise for a lower extremity amputation will vary depending on the extent of the amputation, but should consist of exercises to increase your flexibility, strength, endurance and balance.

Stretches

If your amputation allowed you to keep your knee, limit the amount of time your knee stays bent, advises Senior Step, a publication of the National Limb Loss Information Center. Spend time with your knee fully extended by stretching it out on a couch or chair for at least 20 minutes at a time.

All forms of lower extremity amputations require work on hip flexibility. Lie on your stomach for 10 to 20 minutes two times a day to help increase the flexibility of your hips, lower back and knees. Elevating your chest on one or two pillows will increase the stretch.

Leg and Hip Strengthening Exercises

All lower extremity amputees need exercises to strengthen the hip and legs, even if only one leg remains. Hip abduction requires lying on one side while raising and lowering the leg on top, advises the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center. An amputee exercising any length of leg can work the hip adductors by raising and lowering the bottom leg while lying on his side. He can also work the muscles on the front and back of his upper legs, known as the quadriceps and hamstrings, by lying on his back and raising one leg at a time and lowering it back to the floor.

Stomach Strengthening

No matter what kind of lower extremity amputation you have, you need to keep your stomach muscles strong, advises the Oklahoma Health Science Center. You can strengthen your abdominals using any form of sit-up. However, sit-ups can prove difficult if most or all of your leg was amputated. Hip stabilization during sit-ups requires the weight of both legs. Have someone hold down your amputated limb or place a weight on it to counteract this instability. You can injure your self if you use your prosthesis during sit-ups.

Arm Exercises

Propelling a wheel chair or learning to walk again requires strong arm muscles. Good arm exercises include the use of resistance while elevating your arms over your head or out to the sides, performing wheel chair push-ups, or working out on exercise machines, advises Senior Step.

Balance

After any type of lower extremity amputation, you must relearn how your body balances. Many people have fallen because of balance issues after amputation, advises Viki Laveane, a physical therapist at Elk Regional Health Center in St. Marys, Pennsylvania. You should practice everyday activities like reaching for objects while kneeling or standing on one leg. Practice these activities while standing on your good leg, as well as while standing on your prosthesis. Remember to take time to practice shifting weight on and off your prosthesis while walking, twisting side to side, climbing a stair, or kicking a ball.


Wheelchair-bound Workout


Overview

Exercises for wheelchair-bound patients can provide a number of benefits, including keeping your body limber, increasing energy levels, lubricating your joints, improving strength and enhancing posture while also improving your overall level of health. Check with your physician prior to starting any new exercise program. Not all exercises might be suitable for your condition.

Spine Flexing

Exercises for wheelchair-bound patients can improve spine and neck flexibility. Stretch these areas by sitting upright in your wheelchair to lengthen your spine. Lift your left arm and place it in a hooked position over the left back side of your chair. Take your right arm and reach across your body to slightly rotate your spine to the left. Keep your arms in this position for 15 seconds and move your eyes as far as possible to the left. Look straight ahead. Look to your right. Gently return your body to the center position. Relax 10 seconds. Repeat this stretching wheelchair exercise by rotating your body to the right.

Being a pretend fruit picker can be an exercise for wheelchair-bound patients that increases blood circulation and range of motion, lengthens your spine and keeps your fingers limber. Sit upright in your wheelchair. Keep your eyes focused straight ahead. Lift your right hand and pretend you are picking fruit off of the highest tree possible. Make certain to stretch your fingers as widely as possible. Do this exercise10 times. Lower your right hand to the original position. Lift your left hand and repeat the exercise another 10 times.

Wrist Strengtheners

Exercises for wheelchair-bound patients can strengthen wrist muscles, which can help with lifting and picking up items. Strengthen your wrists by doing wrist curls. Sit upright in your wheelchair. Place a 1 to 2 lb. weight in your right hand. Lift your arm and place your forearm onto the right arm of your chair with your palm facing up. Gently and slowly move the weight toward the ceiling. Hold this position 10 seconds. Return your wrist to the original position. Relax 10 seconds. Lower your wrist down so the weight is closer to the floor. Hold this position 10 seconds. Return your wrist to the original position. Repeat this exercise 10 times.

Posture Enhancers

Exercises for wheelchair-bound patients can help improve and stabilize your posture by strengthening your postural muscles. Sit upright in your wheelchair. Lift both arms as if holding a tray at waist level, palms facing toward the ceiling. Keep your elbows at your sides. Gently and slowly pull your left elbow, then right elbow, back to squeeze your shoulder blades together. Keep your palms facing up at your sides. Hold this position 10 seconds. Relax for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise five times.

Cramp Eliminator

Reduce your risks of getting leg cramps by doing an exercise for wheelchair-bound patients that stretches your calves. While sitting upright in your chair, place both feet firmly on the floor. Lift your right leg and point your toes toward your knee until you feel a stretch in your calf muscle. Hold this stretch 10 seconds. Return your leg to the original position. Relax 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise five times with each leg.

 

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