Of the nearly 2 million people living with limb loss in the United States, approximately 54% of those individuals lost their limb as a result of a vascular disease, rather than an accident. That means that over half of amputees have time to prepare mentally and physically for the loss prior to surgery. At Excel Prosthetics, we believe that our role begins prior to surgery, not just when a prosthetic needs to be applied. We want to help patients know what to expect from surgery preparation, limb loss rehab, prosthetic fitting, and a lifetime of wearing.
Preparing for Surgery
Getting ready for amputation surgery requires both mental, physical, and medical preparation. For your amputation to go smoothly, you’ll need to find the right supportive team of doctors and other healthcare providers, family, and friends to get you through the process.
Finding the Right Medical Team
You should get to know your surgical team, physical therapist, prosthetist, and insurance specialist ahead of time. While coming from different backgrounds and facilities, they should be working together to make sure you get the best care possible. The Amputee Coalition has a plenty of resources on how to find the right prosthetist for your needs.
Getting Your Body Ready for Amputation
Depending on the type of surgery you’ll be receiving, you may want to consider preoperative physical therapy. By strengthening your body ahead of time and getting familiar with the tools you’ll need to be mobile after surgery, your body may adjust to the changes more quickly.
Build a Support System
Make sure you have someone to rely on while you’re recovering from surgery and people to encourage you as you go through your rehabilitation process. Furthermore, you may want to consider seeking out peer support. When you can talk to someone who’s been through the same experience you face, it may give you some added confidence to take on the challenge.
Surgery and Recovery
Everyone’s surgery is unique to their personal condition. When you know you have the right surgeon and team of doctors on your side, you can rest assured knowing that you’ll be better off after you heal from your amputation.
After surgery, there will be a period of time when you need to stay fairly immobile to give your amputation time to heal. It’s important to take measures to reduce postoperative swelling to reduce pain and increase circulation to encourage healing.
While your mobility will be limited, it’s important to begin seeing your physical therapist as soon as possible. We typically suggest within the first 24 hours of surgery.
Your tasks will start small, like getting out of bed and going to the bathroom. Over time, you’ll be taught specific exercises that promote healing, strengthen your residual limb, and prevent contractures. Persistence is the only way to get back to regular life.
Adjusting to Your Prosthesis
Throughout this process, your prosthetist will be working hard to create a custom fitted device that supports your residual limb and makes you feel comfortable and able to go about daily life. Excel Prosthetics leverages technologies such as 3-D printing, molding, and scanning to make sure your device fits your residual limb and your personality.
When getting fitted and wearing your device for the first time, it’s important to properly prepare your residual limb. Make sure your skin is clean and free of any cuts or sores. It’s also important to utilize the special prosthetic socks to help make volume adjustments to always achieve a comfortable fit. You’ll also want to make sure you continue physical rehab with your prosthesis. By limiting use to short periods of time, your limb will slowly begin to adjust to its new device.
At the end of the day, amputation and recovery is a long process. The professionals at Excel Prosthetics are eager to help you through the process, every step of the way.