Gait for an amputee with a transfemoral amputation can be complex. It is the result of a number of factors including socket fit and comfort, alignment, muscle strength, and joint range of motion, just to name a few. However, ensuring that your new prosthetic client develops good habits does not have to be complicated. First, take note of your client’s step width. The width of walking base should be between two and four inches. Transfemoral amputees tend to place their sound side limb directly underneath them and bear more weight through it than the amputated side. So, be sure to also encourage them to move their sound side away from the midline slightly as they move their amputated limb towards the midline. This will result in more natural, evenly distributed weight bearing through the lower extremities.
Next, check your client’s step length. Their steps should be symmetrical. A normal step length is at least 12 inches from the toe of the trailing foot to the heel of leading foot during double limb stance. In many cases, the new prosthetic client will overreach with their prosthetic side and take a much shorter step with the sound limb. This can be due to a number of factors, including a lack of trust in the prosthesis or weakness in the hip musculature. Sometimes just cueing the patient to lead with their sound limb can help with this habit. However, instructing the client to take a shorter prosthetic step and spending more time on the prosthetic limb will improve their symmetry. Spending more time on the prosthetic limb will allow them to take a longer sound side step.
As always, ensure that your patient’s upper body posture is erect and at midline to complete the process and avoid compensations. Monitoring these two basic gait parameters can help your client with the goal of smooth and natural ambulation.
Working together makes a difference.
Beacon PO and Ossur recently hosted an all-day physical therapy seminar at its Raleigh office. The seminar, taught by Licensed Prosthetist and Physical Therapist Chris Doerger allowed our practitioners and 16 physical therapists from around the State to come together to better understand how to best serve our patients.
At Beacon, we value the team approach and understand the importance of communicating with other healthcare providers to ensure the best outcomes for our patients.
The seminar covered three key areas of practice: Outcome Measures and Limb Loss, Mechanical Knees and Feet and Bionics for Physical Therapists.
The event was a huge success and we want to thank the therapists and patients who came out to participate. We plan to hold a similar event in 2014.
For more information about educational opportunities please visit www.BEACONPO.com.