Australia has one of the highest rates of lower limb amputation in the world, and it’s common to have questions about this new way of life for yourself or loved ones.
There are more than 1 million annual limb amputations globally – one every 30 seconds. In Australia, there are more than 8,000 lower limb amputations performed each year from type 2 diabetes alone. Other causes of amputation are from cancer, vascular disease, trauma accidents, infection and congenital disabilities. Some people will also opt for amputation as a result of on-going failed surgeries to gain better function and mobility.
While the statistics shown might seem as though limb loss is quite common, each person’s journey is unique, and everyone’s adjustment period and timeline on regaining mobility are varied.
Here’s what to expect, and some common questions answered by our experts for prosthetics in Cairns.
How long does it take to heal after an amputation?
Ideally, the soft tissue should heal after around four to eight weeks. However, the physical and emotional adjustment to losing a limb can be a much longer process. The first week after surgery, your doctor may place a compressive dressing on your leg to reduce the swelling and aid in the healing process.
From the six to eight-week mark, depending on the healing process, sutures or staples are usually removed from the surgery. During this phase, the limb will change in shape and size as the healing progresses, and muscle begins to weaken. This is when a temporary prosthetic leg can be designed, which can be changed every few months, depending on how the residual limb changes.
At six to twelve months, the residual limb will begin to stabilize in terms of size and shape, and you’ll be able to have a more comprehensive idea and discussion about what will work for the longer term. During this phase, Freedom Prosthetics will be able to guide you on what design will best suit your needs.
After six months and beyond, you’ll be on your road to recovery and will have a newly fitted and designed prosthetic to help you regain your freedom. Some things you’ll need to be working on with your team are ways to get strong and healthy, and ways to increase your levels of exercise and general mobility to get around. Also, learning how to do new things so you can be safe and independent with your new prosthetic is essential as is understanding how to take care of your new condition.
Once I get my prosthesis, how quickly can I get back to my regular routine?
You should be able to get back to a reasonable level of functioning within a few months. But your normal routine will depend on the location of your amputation as well as your overall health and well-being and the team around you.
Your prosthesis will be a tool to help you regain independence and freedom, however, how quickly you get back to doing things like before your surgery depends on a number of factors. These can be things like your own personal goals, your therapy team around you, the best fitting and right prosthetic for your needs, follow-up physical and mental care and your determination.
The first year of recovery is tough and your body and mind will need care, patience and hard work to have you back doing the things you loved doing before your surgery.
What are some common obstacles other than learning to walk again?
- Excessive sweating
- Changing residual limb shape and size
- Weakness in the residual limb
- Phantom limb pain
At Freedom Prosthetics, our team will help you weigh the pros and cons of all your decisions regarding your prosthetic journey and help you with any other questions you may have. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in navigating the many different prosthetic options. Call us today or contact us online.