Preparing for a prosthesis

Limb loss can result from traumas, such as car accidents and work-related incidents, and each person may have a different recovery process.

For most people in Ohio, the thought of losing a limb in an accident seems unlikely. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 500 people lose all of or part of an extremity in the United States every day. Not all limb loss is associated with trauma, but motorcycle accidents, workplace incidents and defective products could all lead to an injury that requires amputation of either an arm or a leg.

Mentally

Losing a limb for any reason can be hard to handle, but this is especially true for people who go through a trauma. If someone needs an amputation because of a disease, such as diabetes, the person likely has time to come to terms with this loss. When an amputation is required after a car accident, there may be little time between learning of the need for the loss and the surgery itself.

For many amputees who lost their limbs due to a personal injury, the emotional journey starts during the recovery phase. It may be beneficial for the injured party to find a support community or a therapist. Working through feelings is an important part of preparing for a prosthetic device.

Physically

The physical road to a prosthesis can vary from one person to the next. One person may encounter roadblocks, such as infections or falls, that can slow the healing process. Another may be ready to get fitted for a prosthesis as soon as a month after the surgery. The type of amputation required can also play a role in a person's recovery process. For example, after an accident a person may require an above-the-knee, below-the-knee, above-the-elbow or below-the-elbow amputation.

In order to physically get a limb ready for a fitting, an injured person may need to do the following:

  • Shape the limb by using compression stockings often referred to as shrinkers.
  • Exercise both the residual and intact arm or leg in order to avoid muscle loss, which is especially important for leg amputations.
  • Clean the extremity regularly to avoid infections or skin problems.
  • Desensitize the affected arm or leg by massaging, touching, rubbing and tapping the end of the residual limb.

As a person prepares themselves for a prosthesis, he or she may also have to focus on how the limb is positioned. For example, someone with a below-the-knee amputation will want to avoid letting their leg hang from a chair, and will instead want to support it with a footrest or amputee board.

Some accidents in the Ohio area may lead to the need for an amputation. If negligence played a role in the accident, it may be beneficial to work with a knowledgeable attorney.