According to Web MD, 1.8 million Americans are living with amputations. Unfortunately, amputations can be a life-altering event, often leaving patients physically and emotionally in pain, and overwhelmed with how to navigate a new reality. Amputation rehabilitation can teach an amputee every aspect of recovery. Not only can it help amputees physically, but also with the psychological and social effects of losing a limb.
What are the Causes of a Surgical Amputation?
There are many causes that can lead to the surgical removal of a limb. Often times, it can be medically necessary if someone was suffering from poor circulation due to damage in the arteries, growing a tumor in the bone of the limb, serious infections that are untreatable, or frostbite.
In other cases, it can be from an accident leaving victims with severe injuries. An amputation injury can be a more complex situation, especially if a third party was negligent. This will often involve a lawsuit.
Any type of amputation is a devastating, traumatic experience that can be completely life-changing. The effects are far-reaching and different for every case.
Some physical effects include:
- Mobile and dexterity: depending on the limb amputated, a patient can experience mobility impairment.
- Phantom limb: An amputee can suffer from phantom limb pain, which is the sensation of pain that an injured person feels in their ‘missing limb.’ This is a common effect that up to 80% of amputees experience.
- Deep vein thrombosis: also known as DVT, is a medical condition where blood clotting occurs and causes pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, and coughing up blood. People with amputations are at higher risk for DVT.
Some emotional effects include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder: if the amputation was a traumatic event, its likely a patient can suffer PTSD; including flashbacks of the event, nightmares, depression, anger, paranoia etc
- Body image: patients can be prone to dealing with body image issues and can become self-conscious about their appearance post-surgery.
- Social impact: An amputation can sometimes affect a person’s ability to engage in hobbies or pursuits that may require a specific physical movement they may not have after their amputation.
What is Amputation Rehab?
Amputation rehabilitation is a therapeutic treatment program for patients who’ve undergone surgical amputations. It is to help patients recover emotionally and physically, but the treatment goes beyond that. Also, there are a variety of treatment programs such as acute rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation, day-treatment, and vocational rehabilitation.
The Physical and Mental Benefits of Amputation Rehab
Amputation rehabilitation can be extremely beneficial for all amputee patients. The ultimate goal with it is to help patients return the most function and independence as possible while also helping them live a quality lifestyle despite their disability.
Other benefits of rehabilitation include:
- Increased strength and mobility
- Education on prosthetics and artificial limbs
- Reduced risk of depression
- Increased self-esteem
- Promotion of independence
How does Amputation Rehab Programs Work?
Every program will vary, but the overall success of rehabilitation depends on variables such as the level and type om amputation done, type of impairment and disability following the amputation, family support, and the overall health. To reach the goals of patients returning the most function and giving them the highest possible quality of life, programs may include but not limited to:
- Treatments to improve wound healing
- Education on stump care
- Activities to improve motor skills, restore daily living activities
- Help the patient reach maximum independence
- Specific exercises that promote muscle strength
- Prosthetic fittings (if applicable)
- Nutritional counseling to promote health
- Vocational counseling
- Patient and family education
Amputations can be a traumatic event, but specialized rehab can help patients’ physical and emotional recovery. There is no doubt the recovery process is extremely difficult and requires a lot of time. However, it is important to remember recovery is completely possible with the right amount of patience and determination.
Image credit: Dan Meyers