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Rehabilitation Stage: Begins after surgery, as soon as treating physicians medically clear the patient.
All amputee rehabilitation begins immediately after surgery. The rehabilitation process depends on whether your loved one has suffered an upper or lower extremity amputation. Since these body parts serve different functions, they will vary in some aspects. However, the goal of all physical rehabilitation is to heal the wound properly to avoid further complications and regain functionality of the amputated limb through the use of a prosthetic.
Those who have suffered a lower extremity amputation will primarily work with a physical therapist or a physiotherapist, who specializes in helping people recover from debilitating injuries. These professionals will assure prosthetics fits properly and help your loved one learn how to walk with the prosthetic. The process for an upper extremity amputee is a bit different. These amputees will work with an occupational therapist to learn how to carry out tasks with one hand and with the new prosthetic. By the end of both processes, the amputee will be able to carry out daily activities.
Physical therapy for a replantation patient can take years. As with rehabilitation for an amputee, the purpose of rehabilitation is to regain functionality of the body part and avoid any complications. In the beginning, patients will be given braces to protect tendons and encourage movement of the injured area. If the patient does not regain complete functionality, he or she may have to undergo further surgery. Although the process is not easy, the end result can be one of the most rewarding experiences for a patient.
The duration of the rehabilitation process will be different for each patient. On average, survivors of a traumatic amputation will initially stay in the hospital for 28 days. The age of the amputee and overall health condition plays a major role in this aspect. The young and healthy are more likely to experience a speedy recovery. But, perhaps the most influential factor is the psychological state of the survivor. Those who are willing and determined will get through the process with less difficulty.
Before being given a prosthetic, the amputated area must heal completely. This process will take 6-8 weeks with soft dressings or 3-6 weeks for an Immediate Post-Operative Prosthesis. There are several aspects to the healing process. According to the Brigham Women’s Hospital, they are as follows:
Prosthetics have certainly come a long way from over the past century. These days, there are two major types of prosthesis. Some are matched to the amputee’s body features to look almost identical to the actual limb. Others are created for functionality. These allow the amputee to grip objects, walk and run. Your loved one can choose which will best suit his or her lifestyle.
The lifespan of a prosthetic depends on several factors that include the stage of recovery, amputee’s age, and physical activity. Your loved one’s stump may change size and shape during the recovery process. This will also require changes to parts like sockets and liners. An adult will require fewer changes than a growing child, who will need to adjust the size of the prosthetic as he/she develops. As a result of wear and tear, active amputees will likely need new prosthetics or parts more frequently.
Scientists have recently developed a more advanced prosthetic that uses targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR). This is where the nerves of the injured area are placed on another part of the body. As a result, the brain can successfully send signals to these nerves and force the prosthetic to react. The prosthetic field is constantly growing with innovative developments.
The goal of rehabilitation is to carry on daily activities with a prosthetic because it usually makes things easier for the individual. However, not all amputee survivors will feel comfortable with one. While most lower limb amputee survivors opt to wear a prosthetic rather than using a wheelchair, many upper limb amputee survivors would rather not. It is up to the individual to decide if a prosthetic is the best choice.
If your loved one has opted for a wheelchair after suffering from a lower extremity amputation, you will find some home modifications may be necessary. It may be difficult for them to navigate stairs, so adding ramps in entrance ways or any other locations with stairs. This simple addition will make a great difference in your loved one’s mobility and sense of independence. Below is a list of other possibly helpful modifications:
The thought of making all of these changes may concern you financially. However, there are financial assistance programs for the disabled who require home modifications. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Federal Housing Administration (FHA) offers loans for both minor and major changes.