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Upper Limb

Early physiotherapy will work on maintaining or increasing joint mobility and muscle strength. Depending on the cause of the arm amputation, pain control may also be required. The physiotherapist has access to a number of options which may be tried such as massage, TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) and resistive exercise.

Your rehabilitation, after supply of a prosthesis will commonly be managed with the Occupational Therapist. You will focus on using your sound hand for daily activities initially, followed by learning control of any attached functional devices, if your prosthesis is not a purely cosmetic limb.

Function is provided by either a series of straps around the shoulders or by a battery source and the option chosen will be fully discussed with you, together with your Prosthetist and the Medical Consultant prior to commencing the treatment. A plaster cast will be taken of your residual limb together with a series of measurements. This may be followed by a fitting appointment before the prosthesis is finally finished for delivery on a subsequent appointment. Higher level replacement may require further fitting and training appointments to finalise the prosthesis.

It is important, especially with shoulder disarticulation or fore-quarter absences to work with the physiotherapist and be reviewed over the longer term, to monitor any postural changes and minimise strain on your back. Your body will tend to ‘lean’ over to one side for more even distribution of your body weight, but this can twist your spine and lead to back problems over a longer period of time. Wearing a full arm replacement will balance your body weight more, but quite often, a non-functional soft foam cap is chosen purely to balance up the shoulder profile as a less intrusive option, at least initially.

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