Prosthetic & Orthotic Information Resource

Physical Rehabilitation after Amputation

Patient Bill of Rights

Amputees / Patients are entitled to Respect, Information, and Treatment among other things.

Targeted Muscle Reinnervation
Motor nerves that once controlled the arm are transferred to nearby muscles, which are then fitted with myoelectric sensors to detect contraction.

prosthetic leg iraq

First Six Weeks After An Amputation

During the first six weeks after amputation, many changes are occurring rapidly. Most of them are positive changes with decrease of pain and swelling and increase of mobility and accommodation to the physical reality of amputation; however, there are many real problems during this period, physical as well as emotional.

There is typically a decreasing need for pain medication, but there may be an increased need for medicine to help with sleep or to deal with anxiety or depression. There is change in physical activity and the need to learn new methods of dealing with formerly routine tasks. Coming home from the hospital may be highly desired, but also feared.  It requires increased physical efforts as well as the emotional challenge of dealing with old relationships and demands despite a new physical reality.

Fears of dependency, inadequacy, and rejection may be the most important yet an unspoken part of the new amputee’s thoughts. Questions about the ability to work or maintain physical independence may demand a share of the emotional resources now dedicated to learning to walk or to bathe independently. While the physical pain may decrease dramatically, the emotional turmoil may spiral uncontrollably during the six or eight weeks after an amputation. This stress may significantly affect the amputee’s ability and willing-ness to deal with the remaining physical pain. The chemicals in the brain that help alleviate pain may be expended by this time, increasing the amputee’s pain, anxiety, and stress.

Pain Levels

All of the recent studies also support the importance of looking at pain as a multi-dimensional rather than a one-dimensional construct. This means that the impact pain has on an individual’s life is influenced by its frequency, duration, intensity, bothersomeness, and whether it is episodic or continual. All of these different factors make pain very difficult to measure and study accurately.

physical therapist with lower limb amputeeUnfortunately, there are no magic treatments to fully eliminate pain; however, physicians are emphasizing prevention with symmetrical gait training, proper back care, good sitting posture, and good lifting habits.

Pain Levels

For now, until research offers improved pain treatment methods, it is a matter of managing the issue rather than curing it.  The important thing is to educate patients in the options available to them so that they can restore their functions and attain a better quality of life.

For more information on the various therapies to combat amputation pain, contact the ACA office toll-free at 1-888/AMP-KNOW (888-267-5669).

Sources: Information compiled from inMotion magazine articles, NLLIC information specialists, and Dr. Doug Smith, ACA medical director.

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