"what is post rehabilitation?"
Post Rehabilitation Stage: Home Sweet Home
How do I deal with limb infection?
(Note from The Co-Op: This answer is for the person who submitted this question via our online form. We regret to discover we couldn’t respond to you directly – and have now fixed the form to include a field for your e-mail address! We hope you see this posting and are helped by the answer.)
Amputees are easily susceptible to infection if a wound is not properly treated during the recovery period. So proper wound care after surgery is critical during the healing process. However, even with modern technology and sterilization methods, infection remains the most common complication after an amputation. Because of this, you will always need to pay special attention to the hygiene of your residual limb.
The best way to handle an infection is prevention!
Follow these guidelines set forth by the Amputee Coalition of America Medical Advisory Committee:
- • Wash your residual limb with mild soap and water, then rinse and pat dry. Do this at least once a day, or more if you sweat a lot or are treating a rash or infection.
- • Wash anything that comes into contact with your skin (liners, socks, inner socket, etc.) with mild soap and water, then rinse and dry (check manufacturer’s instructions).
- • Do not use alcohol-based lotions on your skin, as it dries it out and can cause cracks, which can lead to infections.
- • Use only enough softening lotion to avoid flaking, peeling dry skin. Ask your pharmacist to recommend a nonperfumed moisturizing lotion. Do not apply moisturizing lotion to the amputated limb immediately before applying prosthesis. The best time to apply lotion is at night before going to bed. It is important to prevent either excessive dryness or excessive humidity of the skin.
- • Maintain a good prosthetic fit; learn how to adjust your sock ply, if applicable, or go for a prosthetic adjustment if you start to get redness over a pressure area. This will prevent the pressure area from becoming a pressure sore.
- • Maintain correct alignment of your prosthesis by wearing the correct heel height that your prosthesis was aligned with and by maintaining a good socket fit.
- • Eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of water (unless you have liquid intake restrictions) to maintain supple, healthy skin.
- • If you are have diabetes, monitor and maintain your glucose levels.
- • If you have decreased sensation in your limb, remove your prosthesis several times per day to check for pressure areas.
However if you suspect you are getting an infection, don’t hesitate. Make an appointment with your doctor.
Warning Signs of a Limb Infection:
- • Area around the wound is warm/hot
- • Area becomes red and swollen
- • Pus or white/yellow drainage
- • Red lines running up the extremity from the wound
- • Sudden increase in pain
- • Severe tenderness
- • Fever
Any of the following signs of infection require emergency attention to prevent it from spreading to your entire body and jeopardizing your life:
- • Circulation decreases; the extremity feels cool/cold
- • Wound or area smells bad
- • Swollen glands in groin or armpits
- • Wound has thick, brown/gray discharge
- • Skin around the wound turns black or gangrenous
“Will my loved one have to continue physical therapy after the initial rehabilitation stay?”
After the rehabilitation period, your loved one will continue to see a physiatrist, who specializes in the rehabilitation of a disability caused by injury or illness. Your loved one will also have to continue exercises to encourage function and motion. The status of an amputee survivor’s condition must be carefully monitored for the remainder of their life.
“How often will the prosthetic have to be replaced?”
The lifespan of a prosthetic depends on the individual. The injured area changes shape and size during the early stages of recovery. Therefore, the prosthetic limb, or part of it, will likely have to be replaced during this period. After this, provided there are no physical changes or increase in activity, prosthesis will generally last for a few years.
“Before the injury, my loved one was an athlete. Is it feasible for an amputee to return to sports?”
An amputee does not have to cut sports out of the picture. With the great advancements in the field of prosthesis, more and more athletes with amputations are coming out of the woodworks. It is no longer a shock to see a person with an amputated limb participating in a marathon, playing soccer or even swimming competitively.
This isn’t to say your loved one will not face challenges. It will certainly be frustrating to learn how to play a sport in a new manner. But, with enough determination, an amputee survivor can return to many of the sports they played before the injury.
Is it still possible for them to drive?
Although it can be more difficult, most amputees are able to drive. In fact, many below-the-knee and below-the –elbow amputees can do so without any assistance. However, some may feel more comfortable driving with adaptive devices.
There is a wide array of tools amputees can use for assistance. However, it is important to note not all vehicles are able to be equipped for adaptive devices. We recommend meeting with a driver rehabilitation specialist, who can help your loved one find the right tools and vehicle.
Are there any options or ideas for adaptive clothing available?
Your loved one may want to look into adaptive clothing options to fit his/her new body type. Several online stores like The National Odd Shoe Exchange, Nike, The Minus One CLub, Buck and Buck, FAMP WEAR, offer alternatives for things like clothes, shoes and gloves.
Are there any adaptive devices or cool inventions that would make life with only one arm easier?
Once your loved one has returned home, he/she will have to adapt to life with one arm. Luckily there are all sorts of adaptive devices out there that can make the transition a little easier.
For example, there are MANY adaptive tools available for amputees who like to spend time in the kitchen. Gabriele Meldaikyte, a Lithuanian designer, invented a device, called One handed kitchen equipment, tailored to fit the needs of those who are only able to use one arm. The product essentially stabilizes a variety of foods to make everyday tasks, like cutting fruit, simple for amputees. See below!
Check out some more awesome assistive devices here:
- Golf Xpress- Golf carts don’t only have to be used for the sport. This site sells adaptive golf carts that can be used for things like hunting, gardening and fishing as well.
- Assistive Devices Key- From utensils to card holders, this online store offers a variety of useful tools.
- Freedom Living Devices- This store offers over 3,000 different assistive devices for amputees and people with other disabilities.
- ABLE-PHONE- Talking on the phone is a little easier with these hands-free and voice-activated phones.
- Texas Assistive Devices- This website offers unique tools for things like carpentry, mechanics and hygiene.
- MedlinePlus- Sign up at this website and get updated about the newest assistive devices to hit the scene.