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Occupational Therapy and Amputation How an Inpatient Rehab Hospital can Help

Occupational Therapy is a crucial part of a rehabilitation program whether you’re recovering from a stroke, spinal cord injury, or amputation. With April being both Occupational Therapy Month and Limb Loss Awareness Month, it’s a great time to explore what and inpatient rehab Hospital has to offer in amputation rehabilitation services. Below are some of the most common injuries and diseases that lead to amputation surgery:

You have a severe infection in you limb

  • Your limb has been affected by gangrene (often as a result of peripheral arterial disease)

  • There’s a serious trauma to your limb, such as a crash or a blast wound

  • Your limb is deformed and has limited movement and function.

Indianapolis Rehabilitation Hospital offers a variety of treatment services to help improve patients health after an amputation has occurred. Your rehabilitation will usually start within a few days of surgery, beginning with some simple exercises you can do while lying down or sitting. Amputation programs are categorized with in two phases.

The first phase in amputee rehabilitation is helping the patient to navigate without the use of the limb. The second phase focuses on using the new prosthetic and getting comfortable with movement. Lower limb amputation is the most common condition rehab hospitals treat, however there are treatment options for upper limb amputation as well.

When you are ready for amputation rehab the process may feel daunting to both patient and family members. While every treatment plan is tailored to each person, here’s a look at what you can expect and a few things to keep in mind as you get started in your rehabilitation:

Focus on Relearning Common Tasks

During Phase 1 of amputee rehab, the OT teaches patients to function without a lower limb with daily tasks such as bed mobility, dressing, grooming, transferring to and from surfaces, homemaking, and community re-entry skills. In this phase the patient may also learn how to function using a wheelchair. Learning how to navigate tight spaces and other daily obstacles such as curbs, ramps, and bathrooms.

Another major focus of this phase is getting the patient ready to return home in a safe environment. Often the OT will assess the home environment and sometimes follow up with a home assessment to evaluate what medical equipment would be beneficial for an easier transition back to life at home.

Assessing mental health is also part of our therapists job, meeting with patients to discuss how they are feeling after such a drastic surgery. Limb loss can be a large change in peoples lives. OT’s will evaluate the patients coping skills, and often can assist with finding a support group. The Amputee Coalition is also a great community initiative getting those who have experienced limb loss in touch to discuss their stories and successes. We take mental health just as serious as your physical health at Indianapolis Rehab Hospital.

Learn to Use Your Prosthetic

Once a prosthetic has been fitted, patients will learn how to use their new limb. This mainly includes learning to trust the new limb. Patient’s will repeat a lot of the activities they completed in Phase 1, but therapy has to retrain the brain, for example, with where a patient’s center of gravity is, now that they can bear even weight through both legs. This part of treatment would be referred to as Phase 2, or where most start to learn how to use their new prosthetic.

Adjusting to life with a prosthetic limb takes a considerable amount of energy because you have to compensate for the loss of muscle and bone in the amputated limb. This is why frail people or those with a serious health condition, such as heart disease, may not be suitable for a prosthetic limb.

If you’re able to have a prosthetic limb, the type of limb that’s recommend for you will depend on:

  • The type of amputation you had

  • The amount of muscle strength in the reaming section of the limb

  • Your general state of health

  • Tasks the prosthetic limb will be expected to perform

  • Whether you want the limb to look as real as possible or whether you’re more concerned with function

If it’s though that you would find it difficult to withstand the strain of using a prosthetic limb, a purely cosmetic limb may be recommend. This is a limb that looks like a real limb, but can’t be used.

It’s possible to have a prosthetic limb that’s both physically realistic and functional, but there may have to be an element of compromise between the two.

Our treatment team ensures that you have the resources and education around optimal prosthetic devices you may be considering. We provide you and your loved ones with information on how to protect your skin and how to care for yourself upon release. The type of therapy and duration of treatment varies for every patient. If you or a loved one has suffered an amputation and is considering a rehabilitation hospital, give us a call today to look into options.

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