Losing a limb does not mean losing your independence. Our serious injury specialists have helped thousands of adults and children adapt their lifestyle and improve their quality of life following amputation.

In this guide, we explore some of the frequently asked questions regarding amputee rehab and prosthetics.

 

What are the different types of amputations?

Lower limb amputations

  • Partial foot amputation – one or more toes are removed, affecting walking and balance
  • Ankle disarticulation – an amputation of the foot at the ankle, leaving a person still able to move around without the need for a prosthesis
  • Transtibial – amputation below the knee that retains the use of the knee joint
  • Transfemoral – amputation above the knee
  • Through the knee – the lower leg and knee joint are removed, but the femur is retained and able to bear weight
  • Hip disarticulation –the entire limb including the femur in removed
  • Hemipelvectomy (transpelvic) – the entire limb and part of the pelvis is removed.

 

Upper limb amputations

  • Partial hand amputation – fingertips, parts of a finger or whole digits are removed
  • Metacarpal amputation – the entire hand is removed, with the wrist remaining
  • Wrist disarticulation – the hand is removed at the wrist joint
  • Transradial – the forearm is removed below the elbow
  • Elbow disarticulation – the forearm is removed at the elbow
  • Transhumeral – the arm is removed above the elbow
  • Shoulder disarticulation and forequarter amputation – the entire arm, including the shoulder blade and collar bone, is removed.

 

Why should I look into a loss of limb settlement?

Our serious injury specialists will not only fight to secure you as much compensation in the shortest time possible, but also, they can help you access additional, vital support for you or your loved ones during a difficult time. We work closely with a number of specialists, such as amputation-rehabilitation experts, prosthetic and orthopaedic consultants, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and more, to ensure you have the specialist support and information you need during your rehabilitation journey.

There are a number of reasons why an individual would have an amputation, for example a medical negligence amputation or an accident at work. If what happened wasn’t your fault, then you may be able to make a claim. Seeking legal advice as soon as possible after an amputation is imperative, because (with limited exceptions) as with all injury claims there are just three years from the date of the incident to claim compensation for a loss of limb.

For more information on how to make a claim, visit our amputations services page.

 

 

What are the stages of rehab after amputation?

Following an amputation, you will be shown how to use crutches or a wheelchair once you have healed. You will also be shown simple exercises to help keep your joints mobile. As your strength and confidence grow, you’ll work with occupational therapists on different exercises with the aim of doing more for yourself.

When you are ready to be discharged from hospital, it will be planned by your healthcare team and in collaboration with local social services as well as the nearest Disablement Services Centre (DSC).

A man using paralell bars to help teach him how to walk

The DSC provides specialist support and guidance to amputees, such as prosthetics, wheelchairs, seating systems and environmental controls. The DSC will carry out the assessment to see if you are suitable for a prosthetic. There is a great deal of physical exertion required to be able to use prosthetics, which means they aren’t suitable for everyone. 

However, if you do get a prosthetic, it’s important you’re honest about your feelings as this can influence the design, covering and choice of your prosthetic. For example, those with certain medical conditions, such as vascular diseases, may not be suited to having a prosthetic limb.

Therapists will help you make the most out of using your limb/s, and teach you how to safely move around. For example, leg amputees can be taught how to fall safely and how to walk again. Arm amputees will be shown how to achieve as much dexterity as possible.

Once the rehabilitation process is coming to an end, you may be able return to some of your previous hobbies or activities, but steps such as being able to drive a car or go back to work may take longer to achieve.

Rehabilitation can be a daunting and frustrating time so your team may suggest living aids or home adaptations to help make it easier, such as a raised toilet seat, stair lift or an electronically-operated bed.

If suitable, prosthetics may also be part of the rehabilitation process following amputation. They can be custom-made to enhance mobility and stability, helping you be as independent as possible. Unfortunately, prosthetic limbs can also be very expensive and they are not a one-time cost, meaning they will likely need to be replaced multiple times. Securing compensation is a crucial part of the process following an amputation as many people can’t afford the most suitable or most up-to-date version of the prosthetics available. Compensation for a loss of limb can also fund the latest mobility aids, and therefore improve your quality of life.

 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a prosthetic limb?

Amputations and how they affect people is different for everyone. If you have lost a limb it doesn’t always mean a prosthetic will be fitted. The medical experts we instruct will be able to offer guidance that is specific to your body and your needs, but here are some typical advantages and benefits of prosthetic limbs and some of the disadvantages.

 

Advantages of a prosthetic:

  • Increased mobility
  • More functionality
  • Appearance
  • Reduction of phantom leg pain.

 

Disadvantages of a prosthetic:

  • Fatigue
  • Skin irritation and discomfort where the prosthetic is attached
  • Joint and tendon problems.

 

What to consider when choosing a prosthetic limb

Activity level

Depending on how active you are will influence the type of prosthetic you have. For example, low-level activity limbs for people less physically active are usually lighter and less maintenance is required, whereas high-level activity limbs, for those interested in sport for example, have more complex components.

Health

Prosthetics require more energy to use so the type of artificial limb chosen is important. For example, a pensioner may choose a lightweight prosthesis such as a ‘slide-on socket’ that’s easier to put on and requires less energy to use. Conversely, someone younger in age or with a more active lifestyle may choose one with higher functionality.  

Amputation level

Depending on the amputation, the type of prosthetic and the amount of things to consider will be different. For example, joint movement may not be a priority for a below-the-knee amputee (transtibial), but it could be for someone with an above-knee amputation (transhumeral).

Function versus appearance

Every amputee will have different priorities for the use of a prosthetic. For some it will be its function, such as the ability to grasp and pinch, or its durable for an active lifestyle. For others, its appearance will be most important. Prosthetics have come a long way so you may not need to make a choice between the two, but it’s useful to have considered this in advance.  

Options

Prosthetics are designed to help you lead as normal a life as possible after your amputation, which is why different prosthetics for different activities are available. For example, recreational limbs can be designed for skiing, swimming, cycling and other activities.

 

How much compensation could I get?

The level of compensation for a loss of limb depends on the type of amputation you have had and the extent of your financial losses, for example, lost income.

Every claim is different so there is no exact formula, but severe amputations can secure compensation in excess of £2 million. Your claim will be based on two types of amounts - general damages and special damages.

General damages are based on the pain and suffering you experience have gone through as a result of any injury that led to your amputation, and the consequences of the amputation itself. There may be physical issues, such as infections and hypersensitivity. This can also include psychological issues, such as self-image damage and loss of function, which can lead to anxiety and/or depression.

Special damages are any financial losses you suffer or expenses you incur. For example, you may no longer be able to continue in your current job role and have to work in a different capacity, which pays less. Costs such as mobility aids, home adaptations and prosthetics are also included as special damages and will be incorporated into your claim.

If the reason you lost a limb was because of an accident at work and your employer was at fault, it may be possible to bring a claim against them.

For 100 years, we have fought employers and insurance companies to improve workplace safety and our specialist workplace accidents team have helped thousands of clients and their families in such circumstances.

Read one of our amputation clients’ story to see how we supported him here. 

 

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