Frequently Asked Questions
If the amputation renders a person unable to work, the amputee might be eligible for Social Security disability benefits — under certain circumstances. The fact that you have had a body extremity amputated does not automatically qualify you for disability benefits.
Amputation is the surgical removal of all or part of a limb or extremity such as an arm, leg, foot, hand, toe, or finger.
Recovery from amputation depends on the type of procedure and anesthesia used.
A prosthesis can range widely in price, depending on your amputation level and the type of device you are looking for. Typically, your prosthetic device will be partially covered by your insurance plan.
Some individuals can drive normally with their leg or foot prosthetic device, but a some may be required to have a left foot gas pedal for adequate control of the vehicle.
The materials in a prosthetic foot differ by activity level. Wood, plastic and foam are usually found in feet designed for individuals who have low activity levels and require stability.
Wear the prosthesis for a maximum of 2 hours, with up to 1/2 hour of that standing and/or walking. These amounts are maximums, and need not all be done at once. Examine the limb after every hour of wearing, and/or after every 15 minutes of standing or walking.
If you have an above-knee amputation, do not sleep with the prosthetic on.
While you can provide some minimal water protection for your prosthetic limb by using a cover, it cannot waterproof it.
Most amputees will take off their prosthetics before taking a shower because it’s typically not a good idea to get your prosthetics wet. However, there are companies like Lytra that make shower friendly prosthetics. Find out more about Lytra below.
Shrinkers are used to reduce, prevent or control swelling (edema) in the below knee residual limb. They are designed to fit snugly and apply pressure to the soft tissues of the stump.
You will begin wearing a shrinker when healing of the incision is well underway. They are worn at night time and any time when the prosthesis is not being used. If you are not wearing a prosthesis, the shrinker should be worn both day and night with the exception of two 20 minute breaks, if desired.
Typically, when limbs are amputated, a patient signs a waiver giving up ownership of their surgical leavings to a pathological lab. Patients often have the option to donate their limbs to science, however if they choose not to, hospitals will dispose of limbs as medical waste.
For some people, the pain will go away on its own. For others, it can be long-lasting and severe. But you can limit it if you tell your doctor about it early on so you can get treatment ASAP.
Phantom pain is pain that feels like it’s coming from a body part that’s no longer there. Doctors once believed this post-amputation phenomenon was a psychological problem, but experts now recognize that these real sensations originate in the spinal cord and brain.
Prosthetic socks and liners are the interface materials in contact with the residual limb and are integral to the comfort of the prosthesis.
Researchers have discovered that a ‘reorganisation’ of the wiring of the brain is the underlying cause of phantom limb pain.
Phantom limb pain (PLP) is a common disorder reported by the patients who undergo amputation from peripheral vascular disease, peripheral neuropathic disease, neoplasm or traumatic events. Even though the cause of PLP remains unclear and the large number of treatments has been suggested, there is no single treatment regimen proving long lasting pain relief for PLP. However Gabapentin is widely used and have been well suggested recently for the treatment of neuropathic pain.
A suspension sleeve is a sleeve that is attached to the prosthesis and rolls onto the user’s thigh, creating a seal and holding the prosthesis on the limb. The sleeve may be made of neoprene, gel, or various fabrics.
The timing depends on how quickly your residual limb fully heals from the surgery. Some individuals receive a temporary prosthesis immediately following amputation or within two to three weeks after surgery. Usually, a prosthetic fitting begins two to six months after surgery. This will be when the surgical incision has healed, the swelling has gone down, and your physical condition improves.
People who wear a prosthesis often notice that they sweat more than before, but they don’t always know why. Sweating is part of everyone’s natural cooling process, but amputees are particularly likely to sweat profusely, and that’s for a couple of reasons.
Muscle tends to have a faster metabolism than other kinds of tissue, so a severed arm or leg will deteriorate more quickly than your pinkie (a full limb must be reattached within six hours to 12 hours).
Complications associated with having an amputation include: heart problems such as heart attack, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), slow wound healing and wound infection, pneumonia, stump and “phantom limb” pain.
Using your prosthesis should not be painful. The more comfortable the fit, the more likely you are to use it.
Ankle joints are at a right-angle in most prosthetics, a bit like tensing your feet up. Because of this, walking downstairs can be tricky, or painful, and can jar the remaining part of your leg.
Elevate the stump for the first 24 to 48 hours. Move and turn the patient gently and slowly to prevent severe muscle spasms.
After surgery, the wound from an amputation may take one or two months to heal. A patient will probably stay in the hospital for up to two weeks, provided there are no complications.
Some with prosthetics might feel self-conscientious about wearing shorts with their prosthetic. But many who don’t mind will wear shorts because just like those with no prosthetics, people like to cool off when it gets hot.