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Loss of a limb produces a permanent disability that can impact a patient's self-image, self-care, and mobility (movement). Rehabilitation of the patient with an amputation begins after surgery during the acute treatment phase. As the patient's condition improves, a more extensive rehabilitation program is often started.
The success of rehabilitation depends on many variables, including the following:
Level and type of amputation
Type and degree of any resulting impairments and disabilities
Overall health of the patient
It is important to focus on maximizing the patient's capabilities at home and in the community. Positive reinforcement helps recovery by improving self-esteem and promoting independence. The rehabilitation program is designed to meet the needs of the individual patient. Active involvement of the patient and family is vital to the success of the program.
The goal of rehabilitation after an amputation is to help the patient return to the highest level of function and independence possible, while improving the overall quality of life—physically, emotionally, and socially.
In order to help reach these goals, amputation rehabilitation programs may include the following:
Treatments to help improve wound healing and stump care
Activities to help improve motor skills, restore activities of daily living (ADLs), and help the patient reach maximum independence
Exercises that promote muscle strength, endurance, and control
Fitting and use of artificial limbs (prostheses)
Pain management for both post-operative and phantom pain (a sensation of pain that occurs below the level of the amputation)
Emotional support to help during the grieving period and with readjustment to a new body image
Use of assistive devices
Nutritional counseling to promote healing and health
Adapting the home environment for ease of function, safety, accessibility, and mobility