Updated: Oct 14, 2020
If you've recently undergone an amputation and feel like you don't know what steps you need to take to move forward to prosthetic fitting, here are the most basic first steps and what to expect.
1. Pre-Amputation Evaluation - If you find yourself in the position of surgical options due to a non-healing ulcer/wound, and amputation is one that you would like to learn more about there is a lot of information you may want. You can schedule a consultation with a prosthetist to discuss what it might be like to have a prosthesis, visit with your surgeon about the process or outcomes, or even speak with an amputee peer counselor.
2. Amputation - You've just become an amputee, what now? Hopefully your hospital/provider will be requesting a consultation from Winkley, and a prosthetist will come to meet you in the hospital. We will bring literature for you to read, and answer any questions you or your family might have. Also at this visit, the surgeon may have requested a limb protector to be fit on your limb which we will bring with us and instruct you and the nursing staff how to take on and off. This protector will protect the surgical site, help to prevent contractures of the nearby joints, and help to get your limb used to being in something similar to a prosthetic socket.
3. Discharge From Hospital - You will likely be discharged to a rehab facility or a transitional care unit following an amputation. At a rehab facility, there will be physical therapists that will help to prepare the rest of you for a prosthesis; preparation will include regular stretching to prevent contractures from forming in hips and knees primarily, as well as pre-prosthetic training with balance and endurance with one leg.
4. Transitional Care Facility - If you are being followed by someone with Winkley your prosthetist will follow up with you once you've arrived, to check your progress with the limb protector and make sure the nursing staff doesn't have any questions with applying it. It is also another time that we will talk with you and answer any questions you or your family may have.
5. Surgical Follow-Up - Typically, your surgeon will want to have you in for a follow up to make sure everything is healing well, and to remove any sutures or staples they may have used.
6. Compression Sock - If you had to wait for suture/staple removal after the hospital, you will need a compression or "shrinker," sock. This sock will assist in healing, circulation, reducing swelling, and pre-shaping for a prosthetic socket. A Winkley clinician will likely deliver these as soon as the surgeon approves the application, so someone will probably visit you at your rehab facility.
This is a very basic outline of what to expect as a new amputee, of course there are deviations from here, but now you know what you should expect, and more importantly how to keep things on track for your prosthetic care.
Check back for a post on the basic steps in fitting for a new prosthesis!