Information for amputees & their families

What to expect before, during and after amputation

The most important goal of your entire treatment from surgery to rehabilitation, to the fitting of your prosthesis is to help you attain the most function and mobility possible, so you can lead an active life.

Your rehabilitation team, which includes your doctors, therapists, prosthetists and of course, you and your loved ones, will help you achieve the most independence possible. On average, this rehabilitation process takes between two to six months, although this can be affected by various factors, including your level of motivation and how well your prosthesis fits.

Recommendations with regard to your therapy and rehabilitation are provided below. However, the instructions from your rehabilitation team always take priority since this team is best able to evaluate your individual situation.


Before amputation

Whether you’ve known about your amputation surgery for a while, or just found out, remember that you’re not alone. Your treatment team is there to support you, answer question—and find the best solutions for you.

Initial examinations

If you are to undergo planned amputation surgery, you will be examined in detail several times before the surgery. Your doctors will explain what will happen both during and after the operation.

During these discussions, you have the opportunity to ask any questions which are important to you. It’s a good idea to take notes of what you want to ask the doctor before the discussions so that you don't forget anything. Remember that it’s their job to explain it all clearly to you.

Targeted preparation

If possible, you should begin doing the therapy exercises you’ll use after amputation surgery before your surgery takes place. That way you can prepare your muscles in advance and hopefully make your recovery that much easier on you.

Psychological support

An amputation is a big change in your life and it may be helpful to get psychological counseling. Counseling can help you work through any issues or fears you may have, while taking some of the weight off of your friends and family—and yourself.

Talking to other amputees

We recommend that you talk with peers who have also undergone amputation surgery. It’s good to hear how others deal with the situation, and in many cases they’ll also be able to share tips on everything from using your prosthesis to getting the right fit. Talk to your therapy team about how to get in contact with peer support groups.

Amputationlevel

What does amputation level mean?

The term amputation level is used to describe the location at which the body part is amputated.

The amputation level is determined by the doctor before the operation and is based on the reason for the amputation. For planned interventions, a prosthetist is normally consulted as well in order to clarify which amputation level is suitable for subsequent fitting of the prosthesis.

Metacarpal amputation

There are many different amputation levels in the hand. They range from a digit or finger amputation, to a metacarpal amputation through the bones of the hand.

When there is less need for—or difficulty in fitting—a prosthesis that offers increased function, Cosmetic silicone prostheses are sometimes used. However, a prosthesis is not always used with the hand.

Wrist disarticulation

For transcarpal amputations, the amputation occurs through the radius and the metacarpal bones.

The prosthesis consists of a socket, which contains the residual limb, and a terminal device, which can be a hand, a hook or a Greifer. The system will also include adapters and other connecting elements. A prosthesis can be covered with a cosmetic cover so that it is hardly noticeable visually.

Transradial amputation

For transradial amputations, the amputation occurs through the radius and ulna of the lower arm.

The transradial prosthesis consists of a socket, which contains the residual limb, the prosthetic wrist, and a terminal device, which can be a hand, a hook or a Greifer. The system will also include adapters and other connecting elements. A prosthesis can be covered with a cosmetic cover so that it is hardly noticeable visually.

Elbow disarticulation

In elbow disarticulation surgery the elbow joint is separated and the lower arm is removed. The entire upper arm (the humerus) is maintained.

The prosthesis consists of a socket, which contains the residual limb, a prosthetic elbow joint, a prosthetic wrist a terminal device, which can be a hand, a hook or a Greifer. The system will also include adapters and other connecting elements. A prosthesis can be covered with a cosmetic cover so that it is hardly noticeable visually.

Transhumeral amputation

In a transhumeral amputation (also known as ‘above the elbow’), the amputation occurs through the upper arm bone (the humerus) , so that the elbow is no longer present.

The prosthesis consists of a socket, which contains the residual limb (the amputated limb, colloquially referred to as the ‘stump’), a prosthetic elbow joint, a prosthetic wrist joint, and a terminal device, which can be a hand, a hook or a Greifer. The system will also include adapters and other connecting elements. A prosthesis can be covered with a cosmetic cover so that it is hardly noticeable visually.

Shoulder disarticulation

With a shoulder disarticulation, the amputation is performed where the upper arm bone (humerus) meets the rest of the shoulder (clavicle and scapula).

The prosthesis consists of a socket, which contains the residuum (in this case the scapula and clavicle and upper portion of the trunk), a prosthetic shoulder joint, a prosthetic elbow joint, a prosthetic wrist joint, and a terminal device, which can be a hand, a hook or a Greifer. The system will also include adapters and other connecting elements. A prosthesis can be covered with a cosmetic cover so that it is hardly noticeable visually.

Forequarter (or ‘Intrascapular Thoracic’) amputation

With a forequarter amputation, the upper arm bone (humerus) scapula, and clavicle, are all removed.

The prosthesis consists of a socket, which contains the residuum (in this case the upper portion of the trunk, including the ribs), a prosthetic shoulder joint, a prosthetic elbow joint, a prosthetic wrist joint, and a terminal device, which can be a hand, a hook or a Greifer. The system will also include adapters and other connecting elements. A prosthesis can be covered with a cosmetic cover so that it is hardly noticeable visually.

After the amputation

Immediately after your operation, the focus will be on your recovery and the healing of your arm, also referred to as your residual limb. A healthy recovery is important so that you can start rehabilitation soon and be fitted with a prosthesis. more

Rehabilitation

Once your residual limb has been properly formed you’ll learn more about your prosthesis. You’ll be instructed in how to take care of it as well as your residual limb, and you’ll also begin training with it. more


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