Often the residual limb will be placed in a plaster cast right after surgery while
you are still under anesthesia. The cast or rigid dressing is used to reduce
swelling, to protect the leg, to prevent shortening of the hamstring muscles and
to keep foreign bodies away from the incision. This cast is changed every 7-10 days
for 2-3 weeks. Sometimes a pylon and foot will be attached to the cast. This is
called an immediate post operative prosthesis (IPOP). This allows a person
to begin partial weight bearing before complete tissue healing has occurred. An
IPOP is generally used on someone without disease as the cause of an amputation
or when someone needs assistance in transferring.
Sometimes the leg will be placed in a specially designed cast called a removable
rigid dressing (RRD). Usually the RRD is worn until you are fit with a prosthesis.
The purpose of this dressing is similar to the IPOP dressing: to limit swelling,
to protect your leg from bumps and infection and to keep the leg straight. It differs
however from the IPOP dressing in that it is removable. This allows for dressing
changes, frequent inspection of the limb, and for exercising.
Another option for post-surgical care is to use only soft dressings and/or bandages
on the residual limb post surgically. This allows the incision site to be monitored
and dressings to be changed easily. Bandages are used on the leg to limit swelling.
Once the incision site has healed shut, the stitches will be removed. Your doctor
may use some steri-strips over the scar to protect the site. Though the site is
closed, the skin is new and can be very delicate. The steri-strips are placed over
the scar to help hold the area together while the tissue toughens and healing continues.
At this point you may begin some steps at home to prepare your leg for a prosthesis.
Gently massage and tap on your leg to help de-senitize it. You can take off a removable
rigid dressing for short periods of time to exercise and bend you leg. Do not let
your leg remain in a bent knee position for long periods of time. However,
maintaining your range of motion in a full knee extension position is important
for fitting and walking with a prosthesis.
Once your physician deems you are ready for a prosthesis, your prosthetist will
begin your prosthetic care. You will see your prosthetist many times during the
coming year. At the beginning when the prosthesis is new, you will see your prosthetist
more frequently and visits will decrease in frequency over time. Appointments take
approximately one to two hours and you will usually be seen weekly at the beginning.
Wear loose fitting clothing or shorts to your appointments.