Losing a limb can profoundly affect every aspect of someone’s life, both mentally and physically. In the U.S., 500 people lose a limb each day. Limb loss can occur from an accident, cancer or as a result of a circulatory illness such as diabetes. In Bexar County, limb loss is of particular concern due to the large number of diabetics who suffer from the severe medical complications of this devastating disease. Individuals facing amputation often wonder what life as an amputee will be like.
As a new amputee, you may not know what to expect after limb loss but there are resources and organizations that can help you navigate through this major life-changing event. Obtaining independence and mobility is one of the first goals after amputation. It will take a team of medical providers that includes vascular surgeons, nurses, physical and occupational therapists as well as social workers and prothetists to help you accomplish this goal. However, the most important person on this team is YOU.
A physical rehabilitation team plays a key role in helping your transition to your new normal. Initially, your physical therapist will teach you exercises to improve muscle function and will show you how to get around on crutches or wheelchair. An occupational therapist will help you adapt to your activities of daily living such as bathing, brushing your teeth, cooking, and safely moving around your home.
Choosing a prosthetist is another important decision you will have to make early on in the process. The goal of the prosthetist, or prosthetic company, is to design and fit a custom prosthetic limb to meet your individual needs. Your prosthetist will assess your medical history, test muscle strength and range of motion, and evaluate your joint motion. They will also measure the residual limb or stump as one of the first steps in the design of your prosthetic limb.
“Everything the team at PVA does is focused on doing what is right for you and your family,” said Jeff Forbes, Licensed Prosthetist at PVA Prosthetics. “Our ultimate goal is to get you back to the things that feel normal to you to where you don’t feel like you are losing out on your independence.”
The impact of a prosthetic limb extends far past the physical benefits. As an amputee regains independent mobility, their physical health vastly improves while their overall mental, social, and emotional wellness increases, and their quality of life improves. The re-integration of an amputee ensures that they can return to a level of community engagement held prior to amputation.
“A perfect day for me is when I wake up in the morning and I’m not in pain, like I used to be. I put my leg on and I get my day started,” said Richard Garcia, amputee and PVA Prosthetic patient. “If you are an amputee or have been diagnosed with losing a limb, just strive to get better. Use your prosthetic 100% because it will get better, don’t give up hope.”
“Losing a limb is devastating but we have seen amputees blossom and regain their self-esteem, self-worth and capability to perform everyday tasks after they receive their prosthetic limb,” Daniel Tamez, PVA Vascular Surgeon. “Just remember that this isn’t the end of the book; it’s the end of the chapter,”
To learn more about what you can expect after amputation watch our videos.
To watch Richard’s full story visit: