There can be several different reasons for an amputation to happen to an individual. They vary from an accident and emergency surgery to a planned surgery because of poor blood circulation, diabetes or cancer.
You might be left with several questions when you get the news that you have had to have an emergency amputation or that you need to prepare for an amputation. Here we will explore the team around you and what role they will play in your journey.
The Surgeon will perform the surgery to amputate your limb. If it is an emergency amputation you may not have much time if any to speak with your surgeon. If it is a planned surgery you will meet with the surgeon beforehand to discuss a plan and any concerns you may have. This surgeon will meet with you after the amputation to check on your residual limb, discuss a rehabilitation plan moving forward and will prescribe your artificial limb. When this is done, the surgeon then may refer you to a physiatrist to continue your healing process.
A Physiatrist might be the next health care professional to help you in your journey and are specialists in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. A Physiatrist can treat patients of all ages and focus on the well-being of the entire person not just the problem area.
Physiotherapists or Physical Therapists have a deep understanding of how the human body works. They concentrate on creating a plan to regain functionality on a lower limb amputee. The goal is to have your prosthesis work as close to a natural limb as possible. They will work with you to regain strength, mobility and flexibility in your residual limb. The sooner you see a Physiotherapist after surgery, the easier it will be to rehabilitate.
A Certified Prosthetist is a trained healthcare professional who specializes in the creation of artificial limbs. They have a vast understanding of amputations and experience in the assessment, design and fabrication of artificial body parts. Prosthetists work with you to design a prosthesis to fit your individual needs. It is important to be comfortable with your Prosthetist, the relationship you build with them could last a lifetime and multiple prostheses. You will visit them several times to be sure your prosthesis is meeting your current needs and goals.
An Occupational Therapist is a critical part of the overall rehabilitation plan for amputees, particularly an upper limb amputee. An Occupational Therapist will help you to regain skills for everyday activities like getting dressed, making a meal or even driving a car. An Occupational Therapist works closely with a Physiotherapist and the rest of your medical team.
Psychologist or Professional Counsellor
A Psychologist or professional counsellor is available to assist you in dealing with the trauma and/or emotional feelings and thoughts that come along with losing a limb. Whether your limb loss was planned or due to an emergency there might be emotions that can cause setbacks in the future if not dealt with.
Every journey is different and you may have one or all of the professionals listed above to help you. Family and friends will also play a huge role in your recovery and new life as an amputee. As you prepare for life as an amputee or surgery to become one remember to ask for help and know there are professionals there to help you.