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.
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.