Upper Limb Amputation: Physical Therapy for Peak Performance

Often when discussion of amputations arise, the main focus is on the reason for the amputation and the resulting prosthetic. However, when you’re the individual undergoing the procedure and massive life change you also have thoughts on the pre-surgical and post-surgical physical rehabilitation. 

Amputations are one of the oldest surgical procedures in recorded history and the advances in modern medicine have resulted in an incredibly honed process from pre- to post- surgical recovery. Prosthetics have also steadily improved to become both more and less technologically advanced— from “bionic” legs to 3D printed plans that can be downloaded off the internet and printed at home— options for new prosthetics have never been more varied and available. A strong surgical plan and an appropriate prosthetic have the expertise of a highly trained surgeonand prosthetist, this duo is rounded out with the rehabilitation plan by a rock star physical therapist. 

You’ve already been to see the best surgeon you could find to man the helm of your surgery and you’ve got your favorite prosthetist working on your new magical arm, but who do you have creating the best post-amputation physical therapy for you? If you’re in the greater New York City area you may be sifting through the hundreds and thousands of amazing physical therapy clinics in the area wondering where to start. At Sloane Stecker Physical Therapy we have a strong plan and a long background in both upper and lower extremity rehab programs for amputees. 

Our process for lower limb amputation is supported by the “out of this world” magic of the Alter-G treadmill and our (equally) out of this world therapists. While lower limb amputations are more common than upper, our facility and staff are still well equipped and highly experienced in treating these amputation cases as well. Therapy will require exercises to strengthen supporting muscles as well as stretches to help ease tension and tightness in the surrounding area. As always, be sure to sign on with a therapy clinic that understands the fine art of manual therapy. Too much pressure can damage muscles and tendons, and the last thing you want is further damage to your body as you’re recovering from this major surgery. 

In addition to old-school physical therapy techniques, we also make use of Noraxon Myomuscle and Myomotion systems. While it is definitely within our scope of abilities to eyeball the range of motion and progress of your therapy, we also use the marvels of modern technology to back up our observations with cold, hard facts. With Noraxon we are able to see precisely where discrepancies in movement between sides occurs (down to which muscles are firing when, which ones are overcompensating and so much more!) which is a key element of your therapy as you adjust to the loss of an upper limb. Noraxon systems really supports the work of your physical therapist by giving them a road map to work through— with its feedback your therapist will know which muscles need stretching, which ones need strengthening, and how to progress through your therapeutic routine to bring the most balance to your body. While you can take on a physical therapy routine without it, we would recommend utilizing it if you’re given the opportunity. 

Remember to round out your team of professionals on your upper limb amputation case with a team of therapists and a clinic who have a background in upper limb amputation therapy and the technology to take their mad skills the distance.