Amptutation Rehabilitation: The Stages of Recovery
Amputation rehabilitation can be a challenging life experience, especially if the surgery was not planned in advance. In addition to the emotional effects of losing a limb, you also have to deal with an unfamiliar healing process. Understanding the stages of amputation rehabilitation can help you know what to expect so you can prepare accordingly.
What to Expect During Amputation Rehabilitation
Recovering from an amputation is much like recovering from any other type of surgery, with a few unique aspects. You can expect to go through the following stages of recovery:
- Infection prevention - Antibiotics are administered immediately after amputation surgery to prevent infection. The surgical site is also regularly cleaned and dressings are changed periodically. Compressive bandages are typically used to keep swelling down, increase blood pressure at the amputation site, and help speed up the healing process.
- Pain management - Pain medications are typically administered immediately after surgery and tapered off as healing progresses. Cold therapy can also be used to help control pain and reduce the amount of medication required.
- Prosthetic fitting - In many cases, several different prosthetic fittings are required throughout the healing process because the size and shape of the residual limb change over time. The first fitting can be as soon as a few weeks after surgery. As swelling subsides and the limb takes on a more permanent shape, the prosthetic socket is tailored to fit as comfortably as possible.
- Physical therapy - An important part of amputation rehabilitation is physical therapy. Certain stretches are encouraged to promote healthy circulation, and strength-building exercises help ease the transition to a prosthetic limb.
- Life as an amputee - Although prosthetic limbs can dramatically improve quality of life, they can also cause pain and swelling, especially if they are used frequently. An important part of life as an amputee is creating healthy habits that will help reduce pain and improve general well-being. Healthy nutrition, regular exercise, plenty of sleep, and methods for controlling pain and swelling will all contribute to a smooth transition.
Cold compression therapy can be used during various stages in the amputation rehabilitation process. Immediately after surgery, active compression and cryotherapy help reduce swelling at the amputation site, making the healing process faster and decreasing the amount of time required before the first prosthetic fitting.
As the residual limb continues to heal, cold compression wraps can be used to help maintain its desired shape, and to reduce the pain that often comes following surgery. Even when the residual limb is completely healed, cold compression therapy can help reduce the pain and swelling that comes with regular prosthetic use, particularly for lower limb amputees that must put a lot of pressure on the prosthetic.
If you want to ease the amputation rehabilitation process, talk to your doctor about Game Ready's new below-the-knee traumatic amputee wraps and download our free guide to amputee recovery.
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