Above-the-Knee Prosthetic Types
Here are the common types of prosthetics for above-the-knee amputees:
- X3 knees
- Power/Rheo knees
- Propio Foot
- I-digits Quantum
- Be-Bionic Hand
Your prosthetist will help you determine the most suitable prosthetic option for your specific requirements.
What Type of Prosthesis Replaces the Leg Above the Knee?
Individuals who require an above-knee prosthesis (known as a transfemoral prosthesis) typically receive a personalized socket, a knee joint, a pylon, a foot, and a suspension system to hold the prosthesis in place. It’s typical for patients to be fitted for a prosthetic a few days following the surgery.
After the above-knee amputation surgery, an Immediate Post-Operative Prosthesis (IPOP) will be provided to reduce swelling, protect wounds, and accelerate healing. To make the prosthetic more comfortable, an AK shrinker may also be used, which not only shapes the limb for the prosthetic but also desensitizes the limb in certain cases.
To ensure that the long-term prosthesis is the right type and fit for your needs, the process shouldn’t be rushed. The following steps will be taken:
- A liner will be provided to cushion your limb.
- A cast of your limb will be made.
- A diagnostic socket will be tried to ensure alignment for the final prosthesis.
- Subsequent diagnostic sockets will be provided to achieve the right fit.
- A final socket version will be given to start gait training.
- Finally, the knee and prosthesis best suited to your needs will be selected.
How Does an Above-Knee Prosthetic Work?
Above-knee prostheses consist of several components, such as the socket, knee joint, ankle joint, and foot parts. When starting the prosthetic fitting, patients typically receive a temporary prosthesis while their residual limb heals, shrinks, and changes shape over a few months. The prosthetic device can be customized to ensure a proper and comfortable fit for the individual’s residual limb.
The following provides further details on how the various components of an above-knee prosthesis work in harmony:
- The prosthetic leg is constructed using tough, lightweight materials. Depending on the level of amputation, the leg may or may not include functional knee and ankle joints.
- The socket is tailored to your residual limb, ensuring a comfortable and secure fit. The socket serves as the connection point between the prosthetic and your body.
- The suspension system, which keeps the prosthesis attached to the limb, may involve sleeve suction, distal locking, or vacuum suspension
When recovering from an above-knee amputation, the rehabilitation process typically involves using a wheelchair and walking aids such as crutches or a walker. Before learning to walk with an above-knee prosthesis, patients should work closely with their physical therapist to learn the necessary skills to use the prosthesis and to care for it. This includes learning about skin checks, hygiene, contracture prevention, exercises, and positioning.
Daily Activities with Above-Knee Prosthetics
To maintain the functionality of your prosthesis, it’s important to invest time in ongoing therapy and at-home exercises supervised by your doctor. Consistent effort can help improve your balance and coordination, and rehabilitation can take up to a year. Daily checks of the remaining limb for irritation, skin breaks, or redness are also essential.
A prosthetic does not mean you can’t have an enjoyable and productive life. Your doctor can advise you on what activities you can do at home, such as washing the remaining limb with soap and water. Depending on your individual case, you may even be able to drive or return to work as early as 4-8 weeks post-surgery, although full recovery may take longer.
1. How Do People with Above-Knee Prosthetics Walk?
Is walking normally with a prosthetic leg possible after an above-knee amputation? Since bearing weight is more difficult in this case and the risk of falling is higher, individuals typically use a wheelchair until their risk of falling is reduced. They work with a physical therapist to build strength and be fitted with short prosthetic training feet to aid in relearning balance.
The height of the prosthetic leg is gradually increased to build the necessary strength for a full-length prosthetic. With time and practice, you can progress to walking without any assistance devices.
2. How Far Can You Walk with a Prosthetic Leg?
The ability to walk after amputation and with a prosthetic limb varies depending on the individual’s injury and healing process. While some people may experience fatigue or pain after walking short distances, others may be able to walk around as before the surgery.
3. How to Play Sports with a Prosthetic Leg
Various sports have distinct requirements, and people with prosthetic legs can engage in various activities. Some non-weight-bearing sports, such as cycling and swimming, are particularly popular. Others may enjoy activities such as walking, running, dancing, gardening, or practicing yoga. Consider exploring new activities beyond traditional sports.
4. How to Safely Fall with an Above-the-Knee Prosthetic
Mastering the art of falling can assist in preventing injuries for those who have prosthetic legs. Your physical therapist should guide you through the process of falling safely.
If you lose your balance, it’s essential to let go of any walking aids and make your body flexible. Soften the impact using slightly bent elbows and roll to the side immediately to lessen the blow. You should also tuck your chin to your chest to prevent head injury.
5. How to Sit with Regular Above-Knee Prosthetics
To maintain proper posture while sitting with a prosthetic limb, keeping your shoulders back and your pelvis aligned underneath you is important. Aim your prosthetic limb towards the floor and let it hang naturally close to your other leg.
Tips to Feel Comfortable with a Prosthetic Leg
- Make it gradual: When starting to walk with your new prosthetic leg, taking it slow and being patient is important. Parallel bars can be helpful in providing support and building confidence without the risk of falling.
- Practice shifting weight: As you take steps, shifting weight between your legs is important. Make sure to practice this movement while learning to walk.
- Repetition builds confidence: Once you feel comfortable with the basic mechanics of walking, repeat them often to build your confidence. The more confident you become, the better you’ll be able to navigate the world with your prosthetic leg.
What Are the Negative Effects of Prosthetics?
Adapting to a prosthetic leg can pose both physical and mental difficulties. The following are common obstacles to overcome:
- Skin issues may arise if excessive sweating affects how the prosthesis fits.
- The residual limb shape may change during the first year following amputation.
- Weakness in the residual limb can make it challenging to use the prosthesis for extended periods.
- Phantom limb pain can occur.
Making an Above Knee Prosthetic Leg Work for You
Working with a licensed and certified prosthetist is essential if you need to get a prosthetic limb. Our team of experts will help restore your mobility and improve your quality of life. Reach out for questions regarding prosthetic limbs. Call us today, and we’ll be glad to help you.