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Doctors must sometimes remove a leg or foot to treat cancer. This surgery is called an amputation. After surgery your child can wear an artificial leg or foot, which is also called a prosthetic limb or a prosthesis.
Your child will come out of surgery with a cast where the leg or foot was removed. A physical therapist will visit your child soon after surgery, usually the next day. The therapist will:
A temporary prosthesis called a pylon is used to help your child start walking after surgery.
Your care team will tell you when your child is ready to go home.
The following people will work with you and your child:
Family support and encouragement is important for successful use of your child’s prosthesis.
After surgery, a physical therapist will examine your child and create a therapy plan. Physical therapy, also called PT, is important because using a prosthesis takes strength and practice. Working with the physical therapist will help your child get stronger and learn to move better.
Your child will do exercises and activities with their therapist, including practicing how to walk with a prosthesis. The physical therapist will tell you how often your child needs therapy.
As your child heals after surgery, your prosthetist will measure and fit your child for a more permanent prosthesis. This will help your child walk more naturally than the pylon (temporary prosthesis) does.
During this process, you will hear the term residual limb. The residual limb is the part of the leg that remains after amputation surgery.
It takes some time to get the right fit and learn to walk well with a prosthesis. The length of time this takes depends on several factors:
You and your child will work with the prosthetist and physical therapy team to find the best prosthesis. The type of prosthesis depends on several factors:
Your child’s residual limb and prosthesis will need long-term care. Follow your care team’s instructions for physical therapy and prosthesis maintenance. See your prosthetist for scheduled visits or if there is a problem with the device.
With some time and effort, your child will become skilled at using a prosthesis. Talk to your care team if you have any questions or concerns.
Reviewed: September 2022