Facing Amputation?

Facing an amputation is particularly challenging but the team at Reform Prosthetics is here to support, educate, and prepare you with the ultimate goal of providing for your prosthetic needs once your limb has healed. It is important to understand the type of amputation surgery that you will have as this will impact several factors related to limb healing, rehabilitation programming, and prosthesis design. Amputation can occur at different levels of your leg, most commonly below the knee, above the knee, or through the knee. After amputation, the remaining part of your lower limb is often called your “residual limb.”

Flexion Contratures

Muscle contracture occurs when a muscle around a joint becomes very tight and does not allow the residual limb to move freely. With lower leg amputations, muscle contractures can occur at the hip and/or knee if the proper preventative measures are not taken. Contractures are difficult and painful to correct and can limit your ability to perform your daily activities or wear a prosthesis.

  • Frequently change the position of your hip

  • When seated or lying down, DO keep your knee straight as possible (prop up if needed)

  • Lay flat on your stomach (no pillow under you) for approximately 20 minutes 2-3 times per day

  • DON’T sit in a chair/stay in one position for long periods

  • DON’T hang your residual limb (amputated limb) over the side of the bed

  • When seated or lying down, DON’T place a pillow under your thigh, between your thighs

Post-Op Swelling

Part of the preparation to receive a prosthesis includes reducing the swelling in your residual limb and creating a more smooth, uniform shape. The amount of swelling is influenced by multiple factors including medication, diet, and health conditions. However, in following your prescribed compression protocol, you can help reduce much of the swelling and shape the limb in the process.

  • Elevate your limb

  • Apply elastic compression wrap 

  • Wear a postoperative sock

  • Wear a "shrinker" sock" 

Your rehab team will recommend the best course of treatment for you to reduce swelling and begin shaping your limb appropriately. Follow instructions on the recommended methods(s) for you, including how to properly apply the shrinker and wearing schedule. 

Incision Site Care

The cause(s) for your amputation affect the expected healing rate for your residual limb. However, by doing your best to ensure the surgical wound area is always clean, covered, and dry, you can help encourage healing.

 

  • Change your dressing as instructed

  • Wash your residual limb with mild soap and water after the incision is fully healed and all staples/stitches have been removed

  • Use a soft towel to pat your residual limb dry after bathing

  • Examine the skin on BOTH of your limbs every day using good lighting and a mirror to see the back and sides

  • DON'T remove scabs

  • DON'T soak your residual limb in water for long periods of time

  • DON'T apply any cream or lotion to your limb unless ordered by your care team.

Care After Surgery

Following amputation, patients should expect to receive postoperative education specific to the healing and recovery of their residual limb. Some of the postoperative services that we offer include compression management, peer visitation, and training on residual limb protection and fall prevention. We work alongside wound care and therapy team members throughout the rehabilitation process.

Expected Timeframe

One of the most frequently asked questions from new amputees is regarding how quickly they will get a prosthesis after surgery. While exceptions do apply, you can expect to spend 3-4 days in the hospital following your amputation.

 

After this acute care stay, you will begin a rehabilitation program, as determined by your hospital team. The rehabilitation program could include staying at a rehabilitation facility or receiving home health services. Following rehabilitation, you will follow up with your surgeon in the office. Once your sutures have been removed, you will be able to schedule an appointment with the prosthetic clinic. You should expect your first prosthetic appointment to be an evaluation, at which point you and your Certified Prosthetist can discuss goals and determine a plan of care.

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