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Prosthetic Leg Use: Insights for New Amputees

    While using prosthetics might appear simple—just put them on in the morning and wear them throughout the day—navigating life as a new amputee presents its own challenges. Understanding how long and often other prosthetic users wear their limbs, particularly in the face of discomfort from various factors, can be invaluable for those adjusting to this new aspect of life.

     A new study shows valuable insights for new amputees about prosthetic leg use.

    The study   

    A study published in November 2023 conducted a thorough review and meta-analysis of the use of prostheses. The study aimed to determine what factors were associated with changes in the use of prostheses, as well as how long they were worn each day.

    The researchers examined 2,409 previous studies from CINAHL, PubMed, and Scopus over 20 years and ultimately narrowed it down to 29 studies. These studies involved 4,814 participants who had experienced lower-limb loss.

    The review and meta-analysis provide vital information for anyone who uses prosthetics or cares for individuals who use prosthetics. By exploring the factors that influence changes in prosthesis usage and how long they are worn daily, this study can help improve the quality of life for those who rely on prosthetic limbs.

    Findings  

    • Usage: On average, people who use prosthetic limbs tend to wear them for about 9.6 hours per day and 6.4 days a week.

    • Location of Amputation Matters: The amputation site on your limb can affect how much a person uses their prosthetic limb. For example, people with amputations lower on their limb, such as a symes, are more likely to use their prosthesis for longer periods each day than those with amputations closer to the hip or shoulder.

    • Health Conditions Play a Role: The study also found that people with additional health problems may be more likely to stop using their prosthetic limbs.

    What does this mean for you?  

    If you’re new to amputee life and use a prosthesis, this study can help you manage expectations. Knowing the average usage times can help set realistic goals.

    Additionally, maintaining overall health is crucial for maximizing the use of a prosthetic limb. Proper fit and support are also essential. A well-fitting prosthetic and support from healthcare providers, family, and friends can significantly impact how often the prosthetic is used.   

    The bottom line  

    It is crucial to understand how prosthetic limbs are used in daily life, particularly for those who are new to this experience. This study provides valuable insights into the typical usage and factors that may impact it. However, it is essential to remember that every individual's experience is unique, and the journey with a prosthetic limb is personal and can vary greatly.