How much pain will I feel after my amputation?
The amount of pain varies from patient to patient. Whatever level of pain you have, we want to stay ahead of it. Your doctors and nurses work closely with you, prescribing and adjusting medications to ensure your pain is well controlled. There have been many improvements in pain management in recent years giving us more effective, less addictive options to help keep you comfortable.
Phantom limb sensation – the perception of still being able to feel your limb – is very real. Most amputees experience this phenomenon, which also can cause injuries. For example, you may attempt to step down on a now-missing limb because it feels like it is still there. This is most likely to occur when you’re groggy, such as during the night if you get up alone to use the bathroom.
You also may have fairly mild pain in the removed part of the limb called phantom limb pain. Your amputee team has a combination of treatments, including medication, compression, mirror therapy, massage therapy and electrical stimulation if this pain is a lingering problem for you.
When will I receive my prosthesis?
Most of our patients are ready for a prosthesis prescription about 6-8 weeks after their amputation. It may be a bit longer if you have other medical conditions. Your Amputee Team will provide a personalized timeline for you if you are a candidate for prosthesis.
When you’re ready, we have board-certified prosthetists on-site at Mary Free Bed Orthotics & Prosthetics (O&P) to create your custom prosthetic device. The fitting process usually takes between 2-6 weeks, depending on your individual needs. The shape of your limb changes as the post-surgical swelling disappears, so it frequently takes more than one attempt before you have the final fit.
Therapy plays a critical role preparing you to safely and comfortably use your prosthetic device and be independent. You’ll work on strength training, range of motion, desensitization of your residual limb and developing good soft tissue mobility. Therapy also includes practicing activities of daily living and learning home exercises.
What will my therapy be like at Mary Free Bed?
Rehabilitation is rewarding, but it also can be rigorous. Rest assured, we’re with you every step of the way. As one of our Amputee Program graduates said about the therapy that helped her reach her goal of walking on a Florida beach: “My therapist said that it wasn’t going to be easy, but we would do it!”
Your inpatient Amputee Team will provide specific therapies based on your needs and level of function.
You’ll likely have 3 hours of therapy a day, 5-6 days a week. Your therapy is spread throughout the day. For example, you may start each morning in occupational therapy, learning new techniques for self-care. You might spend time in the late morning talking to your recreational therapist about new ways to enjoy your favorite activities, such as golfing or fishing. In the afternoon, you may head to a specialized amputee gym right on your floor to work with your physical therapist on strengthening exercises and balance. Whatever the specifics, your schedule is designed to help you achieve freedom and independence as quickly as possible.
Something else to consider: The sooner you start vigorous rehabilitation, the better your outcome will be. If you know you’ll be having an amputation, we can suggest things to work on even before your surgery to help speed your recovery.
What’s the nurse-to-patient ratio in the Amputee Program?
The registered-nurse-to-patient ratio is approximately 5-to-1 during the day and 8-to-1 at night. We’ll make sure you receive the level of personalized care and attention you need. The Amputee Program Manager is always available to answer any questions you may have.
How long will I stay at Mary Free Bed?
The average length of stay for the adult inpatients in our Amputee Program is 10 to 14 days. Other medical concerns – such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems – may mean you’ll be with us a bit longer. You’ll receive an estimated timeline based on your individual circumstances and what’s best for you.
What happens when I leave inpatient care?
Throughout your rehabilitation, members of your Amputee Team help prepare you and your family for graduation – Mary Free Bed’s term for leaving inpatient care. Following inpatient treatment, you’ll continue to receive care and support from other specialized programs at our Outpatient Therapy Center and Adult Amputee Clinic. This full continuum of amputee-specific treatment is unique in Michigan to Mary Free Bed and gives you options for lifelong follow-up care, health promotion, therapy and support.
Is my family allowed to visit me at Mary Free Bed?
Of course! We encourage it. Family time at the hospital also paves the way for your transition home.
Suggested visiting hours are 8 am – 8 pm daily. Beyond that, visiting hours can be tailored to meet your needs. Your family members – including older children and teens – are encouraged to take part in your therapy sessions, particularly if they’ll play a role in assisting you at home.
We do ask that young children be supervised by an adult at all times. Any family member who is even mildly ill should stay home to protect you and the health of other patients.
Your social worker will work with your family to ensure they understand your surgery and what it means for you. We can provide age-appropriate resources to help you and your family talk to younger family members about their fears, anxieties or confusion.
Can my family member stay with me while I’m at Mary Free Bed?
You’re part of our Mary Free Bed family. However, as close as our relationship becomes, we’re no substitute for your actual family. That’s why we make it easy for you to spend time with your loved ones.
Your private room includes a sleeper sofa that a spouse or significant other can use for overnight visits. When an in-room stay is not feasible, your team will help you explore other options. For instance, the inn at Mary Free Bed provides affordable on-campus lodging with spacious, accessible rooms and amenities like a continental breakfast and wireless Internet access. No room at the inn? Our staff will help you locate lodging at one of the many nearby hotels.
Will Mary Free Bed provide me and my family with emotional support after amputation?
Absolutely. We believe your emotional recovery is as important as your physical rehabilitation. Losing a limb can feel a lot like losing a family member. It’s a deeply personal experience, and the grieving process and recovery is unique to you. At times, it may seem like you’re on a roller coaster, with feelings that can change significantly from one day to the next. That emotional range is normal, and we’ve helped thousands of patients to successfully navigate those fluctuations after amputation.
Our whole-person approach includes a number of emotional and psychological support options. For example, your social worker can work with your family to offer suggestions about what they can do to help you adjust to your amputation. Or, your doctor may prescribe appropriate medication or other methods to address areas of concern. And no one understands what you’re going through better than someone who’s had a similar experience. A member of our Amputee Mentor Program will be happy to meet you, give you practical tips for success and help you restore your peace of mind.