Due to inactivity immediately following an amputation surgery, many amputees are susceptible to developing contractures in the muscles near the amputation site. After a period of prolonged inactivity, those muscles will tighten and it can become very difficult, if not impossible, to move the joint through its full range of motion. Once you develop a contracture, it’s hard to get rid of it. However, you can avoid them if you take proper preventative measures. Contractures make fitting a prosthesis, as well as standing and walking with one, much more difficult. They also often put undue strain on an amputee’s spine. For example, if you’re being fitted for a below-knee prosthesis and you can’t fully extend the residual limb as a result of the contracture, it can easily lead to muscle fatigue. It’s like trying to stand with both knees bent at all times. This leads to shorter, more inefficient steps, and uneven weight distribution on your back. Just one contracture could lead to strain and pressure on many parts of the body. Fortunately, contractures can be prevented. While it’s important to stretch the affected joint, exercise and activity are what actually lead to more healing and resilience. Some studies have indicated that 5–6 hours of activity per day are necessary for amputees to keep a joint’s full range of motion. While this may seem impossible if you’re confined to a hospital bed, physical and occupational therapists can still work around those restrictions to make sure you get the exercise you need. Don’t Let Contractures Inhibit Your Full Range of Motion STAYING IN THE SWING OF THINGS
CAN YOU FEEL THE LOVE?
The Secret to Living a Longer, Healthier Life
The human brain is an incredibly powerful organ. It solves complex problems, recalls forgotten memories, and triggers a dizzying array of emotions. But its most incredible power is the effect it can have on the rest of the body. When it comes to love, well, our brains certainly love it, and our bodies reflect that. Less Stress Human beings thrive on a sense of connection and belonging, and studies have shown that love actually has positive effects on a person’s physical health as well as mental. The security and commitment felt in a loving relationship are shown to reduce stress by stunting the production of cortisol, the body’s stress-inducing hormone. Less stress means lower blood pressure, a healthier heart, and a lower risk of stroke, especially in men. Healthier Immune Systems Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that calm, happy people can fight common colds and the flu more easily than those who are anxious or depressed. The physical benefits of love even go as far as healing wounds quicker. Small injuries inflicted on a wide test group at Ohio State University Medical Center healed nearly twice as fast on people who experienced consistent warmth and care than those who experienced hostility. In fact, the latter group needed almost a full additional day to achieve the same amount of healing as the first group. Longer, Happier Lives Being surrounded by love may even save your life. A statistic from the National Health Interview Survey states that single people face a 58% higher risk of mortality. Further bolstering that claim is the Harvard Health Blog, which claims happily married participants experience better health as they age when compared to peers in unhappy partnerships. In fact, the blog asserts, “People in stressful, unhappy marriages may be worse off than a single person who is surrounded by supportive and caring friends, family, and loved ones.” So, it seems the results are in: Loving someone is a healthy lifestyle choice. Even having a strong network of friends and family boosts your odds of living a long life by 50%. So, get out there and make the healthy choice for yourself and those around you by leading a life full of love.
Preventing contractures may seem like a lot of work, but alleviating a contracture after the fact is even more difficult, if not impossible. At Advanced Prosthetics & Orthotics, we can help you get in touch with the physicians and physical therapists who will help your joints fully recover after
an amputation. Talk to one of our certified prosthetists if you have any questions!
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