An amputation is an irreversible and disfiguring procedure,
commonly causing significant stress on the individual as well as their own
personal support network. It is reported to be a “triple threat”, meaning there
is a loss of sensation, function and body image6. Understandably,
individuals will respond differently and this is determined by an extensive
list of psychosocial and medical variables.
Adaptation to amputation can be divided into several
stages, which highlight particular issues arising at different points6.
The final stage, ‘at home rehabilitation’ would personally create more concern as
a future clinician for patients such as Mr A, who live alone and lack social
support. Studies have found that an insufficiency of social support will
negatively impact the psychological sequel of amputation with increased levels
of anxiety, isolation and depression on a long-term basis7. Mr A’s
history of alcohol abuse will need to be considered in his rehabilitation due
to common triggering factors like loneliness, stress or low mood.
Inevitably, amputation will impact on a person’s body
image and will most likely affect their self-esteem and overall self-identity8.
As a consequence, it might lead to difficulty in forming social and sexual
relationships, which may result in isolating themselves and avoiding social situations
that trigger potential anxiety.
Unfortunately amputation carries the risk of phantom
limb pain, a reportedly very painful condition, which affects up to 80% of
amputees and causes great distress9. The condition can be life-long,
and with studies proving no agreement on a first line treatment9, it
leaves amputees with a feeling of despair. The pain and distress, alongside the
physical disability, can severely limit employment opportunity and getting
involved in social events, which may create further stress and irritability.
More positively, many amputees have reported a sense
of community with online forums as well as organised social events that bring
together other people in similar situations7.
Thus, aiding in the prevention of loneliness and increasing
self-esteem. A network of support is fundamental in helping with adjustment and
will positively impact the amputees’ future outcome. And as a result, many
patients have reported creating new friendships, learning new skills and taking
part in activities that they would never have done before their amputation7.