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Regaining Mobility with a Hip Disarticulation Prosthesis

Hip disarticulation, the medical term for the removal of your entire lower limb through your hip joint, is arguably one of the most challenging amputations. Rehabilitation involves relearning the use of not only the prosthetic hip joint, but also the knee, ankle, and foot. 

Because this procedure is relatively rare — only 2% of all amputations involve this level of transpelvic surgery — finding the right prosthetic fit and design can prove difficult. Ortho Engineering creates all types of prostheses and specializes in niche needs, like pediatric prosthetics and military prosthetics, as well as complex and uncommon designs like the hip disarticulation prosthesis. 

Our primary goal is to create a prosthesis that takes into account multiple variables that make you you, so that your new hip disarticulation prosthesis helps you regain your mobility and prevents you from falling. Most of all, we want you to want to wear your Ortho Engineering prosthesis. With that in mind, here’s how to approach the rehabilitation process with your medical team. 

Be your own advocate

Hip disarticulation is not a routine procedure, and many clinical practices have not developed a rehabilitation protocol. So the first order of business is to do your research and partner with a medical team that understands the unique issues involved in fitting and training patients after the amputation of the entire lower limb.

Second, make sure you take responsibility for your own health care by asking lots of questions and ensuring that your team focuses on these critical aspects of your hip disarticulation prosthesis:

Engaging in your pre- and post-operative care is essential to your long-term success with your prosthetic. When you are well informed and results-oriented, it’s easier to push through the challenging parts of rehab.

Prepare yourself

Getting used to any prosthesis takes hard work and determination, but the outcome is well worth the effort. 

Regaining your mobility after your hip disarticulation starts before your surgery even happens. This includes conducting your own research, asking questions of your medical team, meeting with someone else who has undergone the same procedure, and collaborating with your prosthetist.

During the days and weeks immediately following your surgery, you work on recovering from the procedure, regaining your strength and appetite, attending to your mental health (watching for signs of depression), and familiarizing yourself with your new body. 

Getting to know your prosthesis

Once you’ve recovered from surgery, the swelling has subsided, and your tissues have healed, it’s time for us to design your socket and prosthetic leg. We take into account every aspect of your anatomy, as well as your weight, age, and activity level. 

You have some decisions to make when it comes to the type of knee joint and foot to be used. These may depend on your weight, activity goals, and overall health, but they may also be a matter of creating the most stable design.

Knees

Single-axis knees are the go-to choice for most hip disarticulation patients. They’re lightweight and don’t cause much friction. If you plan on walking slowly and steadily, this is the knee for you.

Stance-control knees are typically not used with the hip disarticulation prosthesis, because you want your knee to flex as your pelvis tilts, and this type of knee prevents that action.

If you’re very active, a polycentric knee may be the best choice as it bears more weight and has variable stability features, including shin-shortening capabilities. 

Feet

Most patients choose a dynamic response foot because it doesn't weigh much and lightens the burden. But if the term “dynamic response” has you thinking that stability might be an issue, don’t worry: that feature doesn’t truly kick in unless you’re very active. 

A more stable choice would be the single-axis or multiaxial foot, but it’s significantly heavier, so you need to weigh your options. 

We’re here to work alongside your medical team to help you decide what’s best for you and your lifestyle.

Do the work

Once you receive your hip disarticulation prosthesis, you’re ready to get moving. If you’ve done your homework and prepared yourself mentally and physically for life with a prosthesis, all that’s left to do is practice, stay strong, and keep in close contact with your rehab team. 

Expect to make great strides forward with a few setbacks along the way. Learning to walk, sit, stand, and function normally with your hip disarticulation takes 6-12 months of consistent physical therapy, personal commitment, and a positive attitude. 

To find out more about our hip disarticulation prosthesis and how we can custom design one just for you, call any of our six locations throughout Southern California.

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