August 5, 2021

Rehabilitation After Amputation guideline

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Amputation is a medical procedure where either part of a limb (such as a finger or foot) or an entire limb (a leg or arm) is removed. These procedures can occur after an injury or long-term disease or damage.

An amputation is usually a life-changing event that requires rehabilitation so that a patient may adapt to their new life after their operation.

Rehabilitation after amputation is not an easy process and requires the patient to follow a rehab process. It is best to contact a rehab center or specialist to facilitate and speed up the process.

What Types of Amputations Are There?

There are many different types of amputations that are done for any number of reasons.

These amputations include:

Lower Limb Amputations

Lower limb amputations are amputations below the hip (or include the hip itself).

This can include:

  • Ankle disarticulation (the foot is amputated at the ankle, which leaves the person still able to move without a prosthesis).
  • Below knee amputation (a leg amputation done below the knee, patient can still use knee joint).
  • Partial foot amputation (amputation of one or more toes).
  • Above knee amputation (leg is amputated above the knee).
  • Hip disarticulation (entire leg removal – can include the femur as well).
  • Hemipelvectomy (entire limb is amputated included part of the pelvis as well).

Upper Limb Amputations

Upper limb amputations are amputations that occur above the hip.

This can include:

  • Partial hand amputation (figertips or parts of fingers are amputated).
  • Metacarpal amputation (entire hand is amputated).
  • Wrist disarticulation (the hand and wrist is amputated).
  • Below elbow amputation (the forearm is amputated below the elbow).
  • Elbow disarticulation (forearm is amputated at the elbow joint).
  • Above elbow amputation (arm is amputated above the elbow).
  • Shoulder disarticulation (entire arm is amputated, including shoulder and collar bone).

While different amputations will have different levels of severity and impact on the amputee, they are all significant procedures that will affect the patient’s life in one way or another.

Rehabilitation after amputation is very important to help the amputee restore their quality of life and regain the independence they had before their operation.

What Is the Overall Goal of Rehabilitation After Amputation?

Amputations can alter a patients view of themself, their ability to get around, their ability to function, to perform basic tasks, to take care of themselves, and more.

Rehab for an amputee usually begins immediately after the surgery to help mitigate the difficulties that arise after a procedure as life-changing as an amputation. 

The goal of rehabilitation of amputation patients is to help them become as high-functioning and independent as physically possible. Also, the emotional aspect of the process is important as well – social and emotional support is crucial after the amputation operation.

Why Are Rehab Centers or Specialists Important for the Rehabilitation of Amputation Patients?

Since an amputation is such a drastic procedure for the patient, rehabilitation must be as intensive and patient-specific as possible to help them regain their normal life.

Every patient is different; their operation, lifestyle, mental state, and many other factors are highly individualistic and require personalized assistance from medical professional who are knowledgeable enough to deal with vastly different cases. Therefore, it is critical to know hospitals like Everest that you can trust in amputation rehabilitation.

Rehab centers provide the 24/7 around-the-clock care that a new amputee needs. Specialists offer the expert-level assistance help to the patient that is needed after an amputation.

The Rehabilitation After Amputation Process

The ‘rehabilitation after amputation’ process takes place in 8 phases.

8 Phases of Rehabilitation for Persons With Amputation

The 8 phases of rehabilitation for persons with amputations include:

1.Pre-operative

This takes place before the operation but is very important.

The idea is to go over any vital medical history and assess the limb to be amputated – the goal is to decide exactly where the amputation will occur on the patients body.

2.Amputation Surgery

This is the actual operation.

3.Acute Post-operative

After the surgery, medical and wound care is required. The planning takes place for what will happen after the patient is discharged; depending on the severity of the amputation, this phase can take up to a week.

4.Pre-prosthetic Rehabilitation

This phase of amputation rehab is all about monitoring the patients progress and offering assistance where needed.

The goal in this phase is to decide what prosthetic will be prescriped to the patient to best help them go back to normal life.

Also, pre-prosthetic therapy may be necessary to prepare the patient’s limb for the prosthesis.

5.Prosthetic Prescription

This is when the actual prosthetic is fitted and measured.

Depending on who is doing the prosthetics, this can be a very short stage or a long one. 

The idea is to find the perfect prosthetic for the patient.

Physiotherapy is often offered in this stage as well, to help with mobility guidance, balance, and weight-bearing.

6.Prosthetic Training

Now that the prosthesis is fitted, a physiotherapist takes over to help the patient learn everything they need to know about wearing the prosthesis.

This phase of rehabilitation after amputation will take as long as it needs to, until the patient is ready to be discharged.

7.Discharge Management

Now, this is where the patient is discharged back to regular life – with much help of course.

Usually, occupational therapists will assist the patient in returning to home and work. This includes providing the patient with coping strategies, emotional wellbeing strategies, ongoing management, future training and planning, and other education or rehab activities.

8.Follow Up

Because an amputation is so life-changing, regular ongoing follow up is important.

Monitoring how the patient is returning to daily life and work is crucial. Also, evaluating whether the patient’s prosthesis is still appropriate is necessary as well.

Why Are the 8 Phases of Rehabilitation for Persons With Amputation Important to Follow?

The rehabilitation after amputation period can be complicated, especially if it is done without qualified help from a specialist or rehab facility.

Failure to receive professional help can result in lifelong difficulties for the patient reintegrating to regular life, including home life and work.

Why Is It Better to Have Inpatient Rehabilitation After an Amputation Rather Than Outpatient?

Inpatient rehab allows for more intensive medical assistance from a variety of specialists which, after an operation as severe as an amputation, is required.

For amputees, outpatient rehab is simply not enough and may impact their ability to adapt to regular life after their surgery.

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