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Everything You Need to Know about Joint Contractures

When joints are limited in available range of motion secondary to shortened muscle tissue, tightened capsules, and/or increase tone, it is termed a "joint contracture." These contractures have the potential to occur as one heals from a limb loss procedure. The decreased range of motion can cause significant detrimental concerns for an individual hoping to ambulate in a prosthesis. Prosthetists are able to accommodate for small losses in range of motion, but significant changes can alter a gait pattern, decrease symmetry, and increase the risk of injury, ultimately decreasing the long term function of the individual with limb loss. Avoiding these contractures, or improving the range if the contracture is already present, is a crucial component to prosthetic rehabilitation.

It is important to understand the typical pattern of potential joint contractures in individuals with limb loss. Often, joints tend to contract into hip external rotation, hip flexion, and knee flexion. This is not a random coincidence! This is the position we use to sit and individuals with a limb loss tend to sit more as they heal! How can we avoid the development of these contractures and what do we do to improve them if they do develop? Stay tuned to this eight part series to learn more!

Coming Soon! Learn about:

1. Serial Casting

2. Tummy Time

3. Wheel chair equipment to prevent contractures

4. Prolonged positioning with ankle weights

5. Splinting

6. Joint Mobilizations

7. Equipment to assist with improved joint mobility in the home exercise program

8. Crutches versus wheel chair debate

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