Physiotherapists observe and analyze gait (the act of walking) and are able to determine the cause of any gait faults and develop a training regime to improve strength, skill, balance or endurance as necessary. They ensure the amputee is trained to use their artificial limb to their full potential.
Working closely with the amputee, Physiotherapists are part of the clinical team, along with the Clinical Prosthetist and either a consulting Orthopaedic Surgeon or Rehabilitation Specialist. As well as good observational skills, Physiotherapists need sound clinical reasoning and an understanding of the functionality of certain prosthetic components. They are involved in the evaluation, fitting and use of the artificial limbs (prostheses).
They are also responsible for developing a rehabilitation plan for ongoing support and may make recommendations for further physiotherapy, counseling, occupational therapist programs or other services where applicable. A Physiotherapist will use international outcome measures to closely monitor the progress of a first-time amputee during their first year following amputation.
Mary-Clare Tremain works as the Physiotherapist at the Hamilton Limb Centre:
I graduated from Otago University in 1996 with a degree in Physiotherapy. Following this I worked in many rotational positions which involved working in a variety of inpatient, outpatient and community settings. I then had the opportunity to travel and work in the United Kingdom.
On returning to New Zealand in 2000, I began working in rehabilitation and completed a postgraduate Diploma in Rehabilitation via distance learning from the University of Otago. While working in rehabilitation I worked with amputees and four years ago began working for the Artificial Limb Service at the Hamilton Limb Centre.
I enjoy the challenge of working as a sole Physiotherapist at a Limb Centre, but also communicating with other physiotherapy colleagues in the field, helping them to enhance their practice to provide rehabilitation for amputees. I also attend courses both locally and internationally.
But I really enjoy seeing patients progress and return to their previous activities – for example taking part in bowls, golf, walking groups etc – in fact just seeing and helping them return to the same quality of life they had before their amputation.
~ Mary-Clare Tremain MPNZ, BPhty, PGDipRehab, PGDipMgt.