Exercises with an arm prosthesis

If you have undergone an arm amputation, an arm prosthesis offers you the solution to resume your daily life. Because it's great when you can use both arms again. Still, getting this new body part can also be quite exciting! How do you become completely familiar with this prosthesis so that you can use it fully and effectively? These tips and basic exercises are a start in the use of your arm prosthesis!

Learning to use your arm prosthesis

Will you soon receive an arm prosthesis? Or have you recently had one fitted? Then you probably can't wait until you can fully use this new body part! The movement of the prosthesis, stability and coordination are all kinds of factors that come with this. Remember: give yourself time. Using an (arm) prosthesis is a new skill, which you have to learn from the beginning! Fortunately, everything can be learned. A physiotherapist or occupational therapist will help you with this. However, just like improving your balance, endurance, strength and muscle coordination is also important when using your prosthesis. Because that ensures better control and performance of your arm prosthesis. In addition to your exercises at the rehabilitation center, you can do these exercises extra when you are at home. Safe and simple.

The exercises of course depend on your prosthesis and amputation level

Everyone’s different

Which exercises work for you and suit you best depends on your personal situation and, of course, on your artificial limb. Always ask your doctor or physiotherapist which exercises are best for you first. They’ll tell you exactly what will benefit you most.

1. Balancing exercises

During this exercise, it’s important to stand up straight, keep your balance and keep your shoulders level, making sure not to keep your shoulder blades relaxed and retracted. Because a prosthesis is essentially an extra, external weight you’re attaching to your body, it’s important to train your belance. You can do this by letting your arms hang at your sides and standing on one leg. Now try to keep your balance. You can make this exercise more difficult by standing on an uneven surface or by spreading your arms and closing your eyes.

2. Grasping exercises

Sit down on a chair with a relaxed posture and put your arm on the table. Now, make a grasping motion, moving the prosthetic thumb toward the rest of your prosthetic fingers. This exercise will familiarise you with your myo-electric prosthetic hand , which is controlled by your muscle impulses. If you think you’ve got the hang of it, you could also try this exercise while standing. Stretch out your arm next to your body, behind your back, or above your head and continue to make the same grasping motion. Once you’ve cracked this exercise, you could try doing it while walking or climbing the stairs. If that’s too easy for you, why not try varying your speed or looking away during the exercise.

3. Grabbing exercises

To grab, take and give things, you need strength, grip and the ability to open your hand. Fortunately, these grabbing exercises will help you train all these skills at once. Again, sit down at a table with a relaxed posture. With your healthy hand, grab an object, such as a building block, a cup, a soft ball, or a bottle. Now pass this object to your prosthetic hand. When you’ve mastered this movement, you can start picking up the bottle, rejigging building blocks or stacking plastic cups with your prosthetic hand. For an extra challenge, try to do these exercises without looking at your hands.