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Better Psychological Planning Pre-Amputation is Key to Quality of Life Post-Amputation

Posted by Bryan Potok, CPO on

When it comes to ensuring better post-amputation outcomes, a holistic approach is required, which is why it’s not enough to trust that the quality of the surgery or the craftsmanship of a prosthetic device is enough to ensure a positive outcome. How an individual copes with limb loss is influenced by various factors, but one element tends to outweigh the others—psychological problems. 

Improved psychological planning pre-amputation can ensure quality of life post-amputation

The American Psychological Association (APA) sought to determine this and assessed how psychological factors, such as individual coping strategies, social support, and demographic characteristics among others affect psycho-social adjustment to lower-limb amputation. 

The researchers observed a sample of 86 Portuguese patients with type 2 diabetes, all of whom underwent a lower-limb amputation. They were evaluated in the hospital after the surgery, as well as inpatient follow-up consultations after one, six, and 10 months. 

The results of the longitudinal study showed that there is a need to improve psychological screening and early treatment of anxiety symptoms before the surgery. There is also a need to improve symptoms of traumatic stress and depression after an amputation further, and the study advocated for the importance of social support over time. 

According to the study, patients that demonstrated higher levels of anxiety before the surgery showed lower social adjustment after the surgery. And those who showed high function pre-amputation showed a greater ability to adjust to any prosthetic limitations. 

As for traumatic stress, this typically created a difficult social and overall adjustment period, particularly to the perceived limitations of this new amputee lifestyle. On a positive note, social support helped tremendously and was capable of mediating the relationship between traumatic stress and the adjustment to limb loss.

Does gender make a difference? Yes, according to the study, men were associated with higher depression and anxiety symptoms.  

What did you think about these findings? Let us know in the comments section below.  
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  • Excellent post

    Amputee Life Coach on

  • A good article. As a bilateral below-knee amputee, I understand the importance of the mental aspect of this journey. It is certainly a marathon, not a sprint. Setting sma
    ll goals has been key for me. I started a business and that has given me a sense of purpose as I have returned back to life.


  • Kim tell your husband that he sounds like we all did or still do. and granted when + if using a walker he may feel even lower- I do at times but let others get over it at least one is out and about. Basically all we can do is plug along. At times I go to a nice little park and bring or met one of my sons with me for conversation as well as a person who is strong enough to catch me if practicing a “free walk” and goof/slip. I have also found many good videos on You Tube. in fact I would seriously suggest to the doctors out there to have the patient watch some at home to get a better idea of the outcome. And you then think or say to yourself if they can do that so can I, just take your time. A good PT tech would be great to work with as well. They really do want to see progress. Just take a day or week at a time . At this point getting better at moving is the only direction to go and even have some fun with In fact the first time your seen walking or standing on your own others will do a doubletake trust me.— Thank you, Tom.

    Tom Magnano on

  • My husband had an above-knee amputation in June of 2018 due to vascular issues following open heart surgery. He still is depressed and feeling like he’s no longer a man. Fortunately we have a lot of support from family and friends but understandably it’s not enough. I know if we keep encouraging him, he’ll eventually get through all the hard parts and regularly use his prosthetic but he could really use some professional help in the meantime.

    Kimberly on

  • How did patient age factor in? In my limited experience that seems significant.

    Darrel Smith on

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