An amputee is a person who has undergone the surgical removal or loss of a limb or limbs due to various reasons, such as injury, disease, or a congenital condition. The removed limb can be an arm, leg, hand, foot, or any other part of the body. Amputation is often a last resort when other medical interventions or treatments are not successful in preserving the function or health of the affected limb.
After amputation, individuals may use prosthetic devices to replace the missing limb and regain some level of function. Rehabilitation and support play crucial roles in helping amputees adapt to their new circumstances, both physically and emotionally. Advances in medical technology and prosthetics continue to improve the quality of life for many amputees, enabling them to lead fulfilling and active lives.
Amputation can be caused by various factors, and the decision to amputate a limb is typically made when other medical treatments are not successful in preserving the function or health of the affected limb. Common causes of amputation include:
– Severe accidents, injuries, or trauma, such as those from car accidents, industrial accidents, or war injuries, can lead to irreparable damage to a limb.
2. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD):
– PAD is a condition in which blood flow to the extremities, often the legs, is reduced due to the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries. Lack of proper blood supply can lead to tissue damage and necrosis, necessitating amputation in severe cases.
– In some cases, the presence of malignant tumors in a limb may require amputation to prevent the spread of cancer to other parts of the body.
– Severe infections, especially those that are not responsive to antibiotics or other treatments, can lead to tissue death (gangrene) and may necessitate amputation to prevent the spread of infection.
– Diabetic individuals are at a higher risk of developing complications such as peripheral neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease, which can lead to ulcers, infections, and poor wound healing, potentially resulting in the need for amputation.
6. Congenital Conditions:
– Some individuals are born with limb abnormalities or conditions that may require amputation for medical reasons.
7. Vascular Disorders:
– Various vascular disorders, including blood vessel abnormalities, can compromise blood flow to the extremities, leading to tissue damage and the need for amputation.
The decision to amputate is typically made after careful consideration of the individual’s overall health, the potential for rehabilitation, and the likelihood of a successful outcome. It is important to note that advances in medical care, rehabilitation, and prosthetics aim to improve the quality of life for individuals who have undergone amputation.
Many individuals who have an amputation wear a prosthetic limb to assist them with daily living. Prosthetics have many different components which are fitted to help each individual in a very unique way. Physiotherapists will work alongside prosthetists to ensure that each individual has the most appropriate and effective prosthetic for them.
The use of a prosthetic can cause secondary issues including but not limited to:
There are a lot of emerging technologies to better accommodate amputees needs and goals. Where previously the focus has been on engaging amputees in community settings, we are now seeing a large movement towards sports participation as well. In the Hunter we are lucky to have inclusive and adaptive sports for our amputees to participate in.
How Can We Help?
Physiotherapists will focus on the biomechanics of movement, injury prevention and return to life, work or sport.
Based on their assessment, the therapist will discuss treatment options with you and together, you will decide upon a program which suits you and your needs best.
The Physiotherapist will also work closely with your prosthetist to ensure you have the most appropriate limb, and that any other equipment items you may need to succeed are obtained.
Exercise Physiology simultaneously will work on rebalancing strength differences, enhancing muscular endurance as well as return to sport goals.
Exercise Physiologists will create exercise program which are able to be implemented in the community. These will be targeted to each individuals’ goals, aiming to enhance confidence and strengthen any weaknesses they may have.
The Exercise Physiologist will work closely with the Physiotherapists, ensuring that all programs share common goals and client interest.
Occupational Therapists ensure that any assistive technology needs are appropriately screened for and delivered in the most effective way.
Specifically for amputees this may mean looking at any renovations required at home, accessing transport (including the family car), dressing aids, showering aids, alternatives to stairs and general safety around the property.
Occupational Therapists work closely with both Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologists to ensure a holistic approach to the clients care.
The prosthetist will work in conjunction with the rest of the allied health team to get the best out of their limb and ensure it is has the right components to meet the clients’ goals. Along with the team, they will critically analyse the clients gait pattern and movement to build and individualise each prosthetic, improving alignment and fit as the client’s limb and abilities change over time.