Psychological Effects of Limb Loss
Losing a limb is psychologically taxing; it can feel like losing a part of yourself. As a patient, you should never feel like you are going through your journey alone.
At Orthocraft, we are committed to giving you the highest level of care which will lead to the greatest quality of life. Your Prosthetist or Orthotist will fit you with the perfect orthosis or prosthetic and design it to your body personally. Our practitioner together with your medical practitioner and physical therapist is a team that is constantly striving to make your device genuinely integrated into your body, physically and psychologically. Words cannot describe the sight of a patient being fitted with the perfect device— an expression of loss is quickly replaced with joy as pain goes away and functionality is regained.
You can still be productive!
There is a tendency in post-op patients to feel “damaged” or “unproductive.” We feel this is more a psychological issue than due to physical trauma, and urge all patients to realize how much they can do. Orthocraft highly recommends Challenge Magazine, a publication that showcases the amazing things that people do, no matter what their body’s limitations. Many of the people we treat feel their time in sports is over; that is only as true as you let it be. There is absolutely no reason to give up on physical activity, and many reasons to pursue it.
A prosthesis will make you feel happier, more whole, and more productive. However, it is not a cure-all and many avenues of care are necessary on your path to recovery. The psychological component, which can be the most severe, is too often neglected. Even the perfect device is not a psychological remedy, and should not be treated as such.
The Importance of Peer Therapy
While your doctor will provide sound medical advice, the insights and comfort you will receive through peer therapy are unparalleled; we highly recommend you enroll. Our peer visitors are like family to us, and they are extraordinarily empathetic people who know how difficult the journey is. Some of them were our patients, and they are always here to make you feel heard. All of them are affiliated with the Amputee Coalition of America, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for amputees. Your problems are unique, but their support and insight will be invaluable.
Long Term Psychological Care
In the two years following amputation, it is possible more severe emotional problems will develop, such as depression or body image disruption. It is common for these problems to not exhibit themselves for six months to a year after surgery, and they typically are stronger in younger patients. A prosthetic limb does not fix these problems, and it is possible to have them while seemingly totally satisfied with your device. In light of these statistics, we recommend continuing peer therapy for six months or longer depending on the individual patient. If you experience any negative emotional symptoms, it is important to let your Prosthetist and general medical practitioner know so they can advise you on the best course of action. It may be necessary to seek treatment with a therapist or psychologist.
COVID-19 has not made these things unimportant; you should still be self-evaluating and communicating with your medical practitioner about any psychological issues you encounter. Online support groups are an invaluable resource, especially when in-person meetings are near impossible.
Psychological health is just as important as physical health, and we urge you to stay informed. Being proactive now will lead to a healthier and happier road ahead.