What is an amputation?

Amputation is an acquired condition that results in the loss of a limb, usually from injury, disease, or surgery. Close to 2 million individuals in the US are living with an amputation with more than 110,000 lower limb amputations performed each year.

What causes the need for amputations?

  • Diseases - such as blood vessel disease, diabetes, blood clots, or osteomyelitis (an infection in the bones).
  • Injuries - especially of the arms. Seventy-five percent of upper extremity amputations are the result of an injury.
  • Surgery - to remove tumors from bones and muscles.

Rehabilitation after amputation:

The loss of a limb produces a permanent disability that can impact self-image, self-care, and mobility. The Riverside Rehabilitation Institute Amputee Program is designed to meet the needs of the individual patient and focuses on maximizing their capabilities at home and in the community. Active involvement of the patient and family is vital to the success of the program which promotes independence and positive reinforcement which improves self-esteem.  The patient with an amputation begins rehabilitation after surgery during the acute treatment phase. As their condition improves, a more extensive rehab program is often begun.  Success depends on:

  • level and type of amputation
  • type and degree of resulting impairments and disabilities
  • overall health of the patient
  • family support

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 and may include the following:

  • treatments to help improve wound healing and stump care
  • activities to help improve motor skills, restore activities of daily living, 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
  • patient and family education

The Riverside Rehabilitation Institute Amputee Program can be conducted on an inpatient or outpatient basis.  In either setting, it is the team approach is what makes the difference.  Our team of experienced professionals offers a very comprehensive approach to rehabilitation and works together on the physical, social, and emotional aspects relevant to the patient and their family. In the inpatient setting, the team is led by a board-certified physician specializing in rehabilitation.  The physician coordinates the team in determining goals specific to the needs of the individual. Once established, the program is structured to accomplish these goals. And, the same staff, on the same unit, will work with the patient during their entire stay. After discharge, a range of outpatient or home health services are also available.

The Rehabilitation Team:

  • Physiatrist
  • Rehabilitation Nurse
  • Physical Therapist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Orthotist
  • Prosthetist (artificial limb specialist)
  • Psychologist
  • Nutrition Services
  • Recreational Therapist
  • Case Manager
  • Chaplain

Support of Family and Friends

The family is an important component of the rehab team and needs to take an active role in the rehabilitation process. Family members can participate by accompanying the patient to Riverside Rehabilitation Institute on the day of admission and by attending scheduled family conferences. Family members are also requested to make an appointment to attend family education and training sessions prior to the patient’s discharge.