Living with an amputation

Patients who have undergone a major amputation face the major frustrations of losing independence and being wheelchair bound. Practical help and information should always be available. Very simple advice can help with day-to-day activities, such as drink holders and trays which clamp to wheelchairs, cordless telephones and self-propelled wheelchairs if vision and manual control are adequate. Some of our amputated patients use electric wheelchairs and buggies very successfully, and one patient uses a small four-wheel drive vehicle to get into the countryside and covers very rough ground. Compact folding wheelchairs enable patients to get out by car. Manual or automatic controls for cars can enable patients to drive. Ramps and disabled lavatories foster independence.

It is important for health-care professionals to promote patient independence as far as possible. Major amputees in wheelchairs should not be moved without their permission, but should be encouraged to decide where they go and what happens to them wherever possible.

It is distressing for patients not to be offered a prosthetic limb and they may feel that it is because they have been written off, or that they do not have long to live.

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