Q: What are some of the challenges I may face in adjusting to my new prosthesis? What can I do to overcome those challenges?

A: The thing we hear most often from our patients is that the process of developing a sense of balance on their prosthesis is very difficult. Balance is a fairly complicated skill to teach, as it consists of both mental and physical components. It is fairly easy to identify when somebody has good balance, however, nobody will be able to “tell” you exactly how to balance yourself on your new prosthesis. Your physical therapist will help you to increase your physical ability to balance yourself, but putting the strength together along with the other pieces is entirely up to you. Our advice is to take it slow and practice frequently, with practice you will eventually improve your balance, which will translate into a much better experience in using a prosthesis.

Most patients experience some sort of emotional difficulty in adjusting to the loss of a limb as well. It is completely normal to feel like less of a person after undergoing an amputation. You have a reminder of your loss every time you look down at your residual limb or feel a phantom sensation. While everybody finds their own way to deal with these feelings, it is important to understand that if you are having a difficult time figuring it out, there are groups and professionals out there who can help. Whether you speak to a family member, a support group, or a mental health professional, it is important that you find somebody that you are comfortable opening up to.

Above all else, remember this. It is normal to experience difficulty in the journey back to your life. By utilizing the support of family, friends, and your healthcare team, you will feel empowered and more motivated to continue through the difficult days. Once you start to reach your goals, you will find the process will go by faster and faster. Before you know it you will be back to your normal life.