Emotional recovery is as much a part of the rehabilitation process as the physical recovery. You may go through multiple grieving processes. It can feel like losing a close relative.
Fears of dependency, inadequacy, and rejection are frequently felt. Depression and anxiety can escalate, especially during the first 6-8 weeks after the amputation.
Many factors affect your emotional recovery, including whether your amputation was traumatic or from a long-standing disease, the level of amputation, your health status, coping abilities, and support systems.
Having a team of experts and a strong support system can be the best help for working through emotional difficulties. You’re much more than just a physical experience, and realizing that will help you see how your life can have great quality despite an amputation.
Physically, amputation permanently alters your body, and this can affect all areas of your life. How much it affects your life depends on the type of amputation and the degree to which your body recovers from the surgery.
Most people return to the activities they were doing before the amputation with the right help, training, and equipment.
For an upper-limb amputation, the object is to use adaptive equipment, as well as a prosthesis, to return to independence with activities of daily living such as cutting meat, buttoning buttons, and driving a car.
Adaptive equipment are specially designed devices that assist with performance, such as a reacher or a steering knob.
Amputation in Children
For congenital limb deficiencies, parents generally go through the grieving process. Parents are often amazed at how children figure out ways to do things on their own. Sometimes, the best advice is to treat your child like everyone else.
Having a team of experts to help you and your child through the medical, psychological, and physical needs will ensure that the transition from baby to competent adult is as smooth as possible.
Early fitting with a prosthesis is generally the best way to help your child develop successful prosthetic use.
The most important rehabilitation goal for those with a lower-limb amputation is to walk again. Remember, rehabilitation from an amputation in an elderly person is a much more difficult process than in a young person. Regaining the ability to walk will be a major achievement.
A research study identified some common factors that help to predict whether or not a person will be able to walk following an amputation. Poor pre-operative mobility, age over 70 years, dementia, and severe kidney and heart disease are factors that make it more unlikely a person will walk after an amputation (Taylor SM et al, 2005).
Instead of focusing on walking, some amputees may need to focus on their ability to be able to transfer between a wheelchair and bed, toilet, chair, and car.
Protecting Your Remaining Limb from Amputation
Usually when one limb is lost due to problems associated with vascular disease, it’s likely the other limb has vascular disease as well.
Discuss with your physician what measures you can take to protect your other limb. Smoking cessation, prescribed exercise, diet control, carefully fitted shoes, and diabetes control are some measures that may be recommended.
Mary Free Bed prosthetists can develop recreational prostheses. Some insurance companies don’t consider these medically necessary and you may need to pay for these items yourself.
Examples of recreational prosthetic devices include running foot units, swim legs, swim arms, golfing adapters, and ball glove adapters. Mary Free Bed's prothetists and adaptive technology experts have access to unique technologies to develop specialized prosthetic devices for your needs.
Matching you with a well-trained peer support volunteer usually makes a big difference in dealing with the physical and emotional changes that occur with an amputation.
Mary Free Bed has an Amputee Mentor Program to fill this important need. Peer support is available anyone dealing with the loss of a limb, anyone from parents with children who have limb deficiencies to senior citizens.
We can also help you get involved with amputee sports groups that are involved in activities such as golf, kayaking, and rock climbing.