Amputations can occur as the direct result of an accident or be performed post-accident to remove damaged tissue. Approximately 185,000 amputations occur in the United States each year with the majority of those due to circulatory complications of diabetes.

Amputation Treatment and Complications

The length of time in the hospital can vary based on the severity of the injury and other associated injuries. After the body part is removed, a flap is constructed of muscle, connective tissue, and skin to cover the residual limb. Post-surgical healing can take as little as one month, with physical therapy and rehabilitation beginning as soon as possible. It is important to engage in therapy early and often. This includes psychological counseling to address the sense of loss most amputees experience and potential phantom limb syndrome.

There are several complications that providers and case managers should be particularly vigilant in anticipating and preventing. Infection affects approximately 15% of limb amputations, and when it occurs it is sometimes necessary to re-amputate the limb at a higher level. Non-healing and or delayed healing is another unfortunate complication of amputation injuries, usually due to an inadequate blood supply. It is often a best practice to transfer these patients to centers that specialize in amputation since they usually have the lowest rates of complication.

The goal of rehabilitation therapy is to increase the injured person’s level of function for everyday tasks such dressing, walking, bathing and grooming. In most cases, the use of a prosthetic device is recommended by the treating doctor and becomes part of the rehabilitation program. Be sure that the treating prosthetist develops and implements a comprehensive prosthetics treatment plan that provides the appropriate equipment and ensures the necessary functional training.

Every prosthetic candidate should be evaluated by a transdisciplinary team of experienced clinicians, including licensed occupational and physical therapists, clinical and rehabilitation physicians, psychological professionals, and a prosthetist experienced in the particular type of amputation. With the help of a skilled team and a comprehensive prosthetics treatment plan, most amputees can achieve maximum functional restoration. Paradigm plays an active role in overseeing all aspects of care and rehabilitation in the cases it manages.