What is an amputation?
An amputation is described as the removal of all or part of or a limb or extremity such as a hand, foot, leg, arm, finger or toe. Amputations can be needed following traumatic injury, infection, illness or if a limb has limited movement or function. They can be described as full or partial and above or below the joint depending on the amount of limb or extremity that is removed.
Common difficulties associated with amputations
The difficulties experienced by an amputee will have many varying factors including:
- The location and type of amputation
- Medical history and current health
- Their home or work environment
- Family and work roles and responsibilities
An occupational therapist will assess and identify the areas of difficulty within daily routines. Below are some examples of common difficulties that we may work with clients to address.
- Dressing and undressing - involving zips, buttons and fastenings, plus accessing clothes from wardrobes and drawers
- Washing - including turning taps on and off, accessing the bath or shower, using soap and sponges, cleaning teeth, shaving or brushing hair
- Moving around the home - including making a property wheelchair accessible, accessing the kitchen or bathroom, using the stairs and getting in and out of the property
- Returning to work - including fatigue management, environmental considerations or role changes
- Sports and hobbies - including use of relevant equipment and access to facilities
- Meal and drink preparation - including using the oven, microwave or stove, opening the fridge or freezer, and using knives
If you would like to learn more about how we as occupational therapists can help people overcome common difficulties associated with an amputation, you will find some useful links at the bottom of this page.
How can occupational therapy help people following an amputation?
Occupational therapy is an important source of support for clients following amputations. The role of an occupational therapist (OT) is to work with clients to maximise their level of independence in day-to-day activities. We achieve this through assessment of a client’s daily life to identify goals, routines and activities they wish to maintain, protect or work towards. The journey of an amputee will be as unique as they are, and we can help by providing some of the methods needed to lead fulfilling lives.
Below are some of the ways that our team can help:
- Teaching new techniques and strategies to carry out activities such as dressing and washing
- Providing advice on small aids to help with common challenges such as zips, putting on socks, using a key or preparing meals and drinks
- Providing advice on large items of equipment such as wheelchairs or comfy seating
- Suggesting home modifications such as stair lifts, bathroom adaptations, ramps or kitchen alterations
- Providing advice on vehicles and adapted driving options
- Facilitating returning to work or hobbies
- Putting together fatigue management programmes
- Supporting community access such as the use of buses or trains, and using community facilities such as supermarkets and cinemas
- Building confidence and self-esteem