If you or someone you love is preparing for limb amputation, overwhelming thoughts and emotions may inundate everyone involved. Nothing can truly get a person ready for this life-changing medical procedure, but knowing what can happen can be key to preparedness when it comes time for surgery. For some that are reading, maybe surgery has already been done and you need to know where to go from here. The knowledge that you can and will be empowered to move should be at the forefront of your mind through the entire process. Prepare yourself and be determined that you are in control and can be victorious.
A three to seven-day hospital recovery will follow the operation if there are no complications. During this time the main focus will be on pain control. The hospital staff will teach the patient and family member how to take care of the amputation wound as it begins to heal. Physical therapy will assist with the stretching and strengthening of the patient’s muscles in preparation for a prosthesis. Autonomy will begin with learning to transfer safely between a chair and the bed and other surfaces. Walking aids will be needed for a short period while waiting on the prosthesis and adjusting daily life skills will be taught during this time. Qualified medical professionals will tend to the amputation wound and help the patient get ready to go home.
Getting Prepared for Prosthesis
Most patients can start the process of prosthesis preparation within three to four weeks after leaving the hospital setting. During this stage, it is important to tend to your wound daily. Some surgeons choose to use sutures, others may close the wound with staples. As often as possible, you should keep your residual limb straight and be vigilant in practicing the physical therapy exercises that were taught while in the hospital.
You may be feeling like you want to get your life back to some semblance of normalcy as soon as possible, and this is a good thing. But you should be very careful when moving from one surface to another so that you do not fall. Be sure that all follow-up appointments are made and kept. Any gaps in treatment can create a lag in the process and create a possibility for a problematic wound that will be stubborn while healing. You are a part of your care team and it is up to you to take part in managing your care and getting your prosthesis on time.
It’s Time to Get Fitted
Once the wound has healed, it is time for the first appointment to get your prosthesis. Approximately three weeks after your first visit, you will be given a temporary prosthesis for preparatory purposes. Daily care of the residual limb will be consistently important throughout the entire process. A shrinker sock should be used every day. It may create a bit of discomfort because it is intended to and will fit the residual limb tightly and apply pressure. Your body will adjust to the pressure of the sock and the discomfort will ease with daily usage. A part of daily wound care and maintenance should include continuing the exercise to stretch and strengthen the muscles. Scar massage is also important.
Learning to Use Your Prosthesis
Your temporary prosthesis is only used until the residual limb has reached a stable size (which can be accomplished quicker if a shrinker sock is worn faithfully). This process usually takes two to six months. At this point, you will receive your permanent prosthesis, and you’re ready to develop a sense of your new normal and adjust your life accordingly. This is where you will be empowered to move.
You will be taught how to don (put on) and doff (take off) your prosthesis. You will find that the thickness of your sock needs to be adjusted for your prosthesis to fit right. You will begin walking with your prosthesis using parallel bars in a physical therapy setting. When at home, you should gradually increase how long you have the prosthesis on each day. When you can walk without aid, you should do so, but until then walking with a walker or a cane is advisable to prevent falls. Be sure you or your caregiver are caring for and cleaning your prosthesis each day.
Returning to Daily Routine Activities
At this point, you may be tired. Giving up or giving in cannot happen. Work with your team to maintain your progress. Slowly reintroduce regular daily activities into your routine but be gentle with yourself. When you feel overwhelmed, try to use coping skills such as medication when the fatigue sets in.
Limb, Skin, and Prosthetic Care
You should be taking your bath or showers at night rather than in the morning. Keep in mind that your limb will swell when in hot water or when you are dangling the residual limb over the edge of a char while in the shower. If it begins to swell, then the prosthetic will not fit properly. You mustn’t place a pillow between your legs when you are lying down or rest your limb over the handle of your crutches when sitting. Continuing with daily stretching exercises will aid in straightening your knee and hip and will provide comfort for you when you are walking or lying in bed.
Your limb should be washed in room temperature water daily using a mild soap. If you sweat excessively, then you should bathe more often. Pat your limb dry. If you don’t allow it to dry completely you are risking fungal growth that can create a breeding ground for infection and abrasion.
Check your limb for red pressure patches. The socket may need to be checked. If you do not tend to this patch, a pressure ulcer may form. Check for ulceration twice a day. If you cannot see the end of the limb, you should use a mirror. This is extremely important for all patients, but diabetics need to be hypervigilant. Wound care management will already be a part of the care team if the incision on the residual limb forms a chronic and stubborn wound.
Your Ultimate Power Lies in How well You Comfortably Move
If you are having a fit problem with a socket it can cause your skin to break down. Whereas you used to have to go to your prosthetist for an adjustment. Through a prosthetist, you can control the fit and comfort of your prosthetic with a simple twist of a dial. There’s no need to remove your clothing. The dial makes it possible to be 3 times more likely to deliver a perfect fit on the first try. Customized prosthetics can be made with Fabtech systems that contain Fabtech Systems’ modular composite spring systems. The days of discomfort, doctor visits, and feeling helpless are no longer yours.
Also, Read Healthgardeners