Attention New Amputees
Got questions? Looking for answers? We're here to help.
In addition to the many resources available from the Amputee Coalition of America (www.amputee-coalition.org), and the experienced clinicians at Holmes Prosthetic Center, a new book is available and written especially for new amputees and their families.
Stacy Flynn, DPT, is an experienced physical therapist with many years of experience helping amputees and people with other physical and/or neurological conditions of all kinds. After realizing the void in the literature where a book like this should be, she set out to author her own repository of processes, expectations, and resources for this distinct population. Complete with dozens of full-color photos, easy-to-read tables and figures, and an intuitive organization, this book is an invaluable resource for new amputees (arm or leg) and people who love and care for them.
From the author herself, this book, "covers topics including the different types of surgery, how to prepare for a prosthesis and what a prosthesis looks like. The book also goes beyond this and talks about sexuality after surgery, driving, recreation and other topics to help you move beyond the surgery and into life."
We are proud to have Stacy in our professional orbit, and you can benefit from her wisdom, expertise, and dedication to improving life for amputees of all kinds.
HPC specializes in services for individuals with limb loss.
- We know that good information can help calm the concerns raised by a recent amputation.
- We believe the education of all team members involved, including patients, families, and caregivers, contribute to the best possible outcomes.
Starting this month, we are sharing with the community these commonalities we know people with limb loss tend to experience. A new entry on how to set appropriate rehabilitation goals, how prosthetic services are provided, or one of many others will be featured each month. These are crafted by a variety of rehabilitation professionals with many years of experience assisting individual members of this community to achieve success.
Whether you’re new to the limb loss community seeking information on how to start your own successful path, or you’re a seasoned amputee seeking to know more about services and options available:
We invite you to explore this column each month.
We invite you to seek answers to your questions in terms customized for you.
We invite you to succeed on your own rehabilitation path.
We invite you to join our community.
This first entry is written for a new amputee, or someone facing the possibility of amputation. While individual experiences remain unique, pathways of rehabilitation following limb loss have many elements in common. We’re happy to learn what makes you and your story distinct and what success looks like to you and your own team
We strive to know the stories and circumstances of every individual who comes to us. Every person is unique, and specialized services are provided, one at a time, to all who need them. We make patients for life.
After reading these articles, If you have questions about your specific situation please let us know your circumstances and how we may help you.
I Have Been Told I Need an Amputation. What Do I Need to Know Before Surgery?
If you have been told by a doctor that you need to have an amputation, you have to make a life changing decision. It is important that you have an open and honest discussion with your doctor about the benefits and risks of the surgery. It is best to have a team approach to your care as much as possible when discussing the decision. Remember that you and your support team are the most important people on your healthcare team! You need to be sure that you are always heard and all your questions are answered. Other members of the team may include your doctor, surgeon (if they are not the lead doctor), social worker, nurse, dietician, physical therapist, occupational therapist, psychologist, Amputation Clinic, certified prosthetist, and recreational therapist. It is also suggested you reach out to a support group in your area or agree to a peer visit if offered. A support group can help you meet other people with limb loss who have been where you are and can offer support and understanding that others cannot. A peer visitor is someone with limb loss who can provide you with one-on-one support and information about what to expect.
When discussing the surgical procedure with the team, a large part of the decision may be deciding the “level” of amputation. This means where on the limb the surgery will be done. The goal is always to keep as much of the limb as possible however the surgeon must be sure the limb will heal after surgery. If you are not sure why they want to do the surgery at the level they recommend, ask for an explanation for the risk if more of the limb is saved so that you understand the decision. The surgery is named by the level it is done. For example, a surgery done where the cut is between the knee and the ankle is called below knee or trans-tibial (because the tibia is the bone that is cut) or for a surgery done where the cut is between the shoulder and the elbow it is called above elbow or trans-humeral (because the humerus is the bone that is cut).
It is important to start planning for what to expect after surgery right away. It is healthy and normal after losing a limb for you and your friends and family to grieve. It will take time to adjust and feel acceptance of your new reality. Give you and your support group time to go through the process. You may not get there at the same time, but be patient with each other and support each other as you can. If you met people from a support group or a peer visitor before surgery, they can help you during this time as someone who has been on a parallel journey. Reach out for help if you need it.
Plan for what changes need to be made to your home. Do you need ramps put in or bathroom equipment ordered? Talk with your therapists about what things you will need so that you can start getting ready early. You do not want to get home and not have what you need.