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How Various Factors Affect Mobility in People with Lower Limb Loss

    Individuals who live with lower limb loss experience a significant change in their daily life and physical abilities. Rehabilitation goals for these individuals focus on regaining mobility and physical function to improve their quality of life. Unfortunately, there aren’t many studies that measure these mobility deficiencies. This information would be helpful for individuals with lower limb loss to set achievable rehabilitation goals, which could improve their mental health and overall well-being.

    How various factors affect mobility in people with lower limb loss.

    In January 2024, researchers Neha Mukkamala and Shivani Vala published a study that measured mobility inadequacies in individuals with lower-limb amputation in the Indian population.

    The study  

    The researchers studied people who had lost one or both legs. They only included those who were over 18 years old and had undergone amputation at least six weeks before the study. They excluded individuals who had problems with their vision and hearing, had cognitive impairment, upper limb amputation, and ankle and foot amputation.

    To measure mobility inadequacies in people with lower limb loss, the researchers used a simple test called the Timed “Up and Go” TUG test. This test measures how quickly someone can get up from a chair, walk a short distance, turn around, and walk back to the chair. The faster someone can do this (lower TUG score), the better they are able to move around.

    The results  

    The researchers screened 54 individuals with lower limb loss, 47 males and seven females. Of these, 66.67% had below-knee limb loss, and 27.8% had above-knee limb loss.

    The researchers found that the time taken to complete the TUG test was affected by various factors. These factors included the person's age, the level of amputation, the length of time they have been using a prosthetic leg, and the cause of amputation (traumatic vs. non-traumatic).

    The type of assistive devices used for mobility and the number of hours the prosthetic leg was worn in a day also had an impact. Moreover, the longer the duration of the amputation, the shorter it took for the person to complete the TUG test. 

    The bottom line  

    Although individuals with lower limb amputation had reduced functional mobility, certain factors can make this better or worse.

    The researchers found that older people, those who had a non-traumatic amputation, or those who had the amputation higher up on their leg tended to have decreased mobility. Similarly, people who had only recently started using a prosthetic leg or hadn’t worn it for very long in a day also had more difficulty.

    Using other assistive devices to help with walking, in addition to a prosthetic leg, also made movement harder. Meanwhile, individuals who had been living with limb loss for a longer time did better on the mobility test. 

    So, what does this study mean for you? If you’re currently undergoing a rehabilitation program post-amputation, it’s best to keep these factors in mind and don’t be too hard on yourself.