What to Look for in Occupational Therapy for Amputees

1 June 2022

When someone sustains an injury or has a condition that warrants amputation, one of the first questions they often ask after the procedure is, “When can I return to regular activities?” While this answer varies based on the type of amputation, it is possible for amputees to resume certain aspects of their daily lives. While a return to “normal” may require modifications, the best place to start is occupational therapy for amputees.

Occupational therapists are licensed healthcare practitioners who help injured patients find ways to resume daily activities, such as work tasks or recreational hobbies, after an injury. Oftentimes, people do not think much of their daily activities until they are suddenly hard to do. That’s why an amputee OTis so critical; they help amputees return to the tasks they either enjoy or are required to do for work as soon as possible.

If you are in the process of searching for the right OT to help you build strength or adjust to your prosthesis, it’s important to know which criteria to use to evaluate your options. Just like prosthetics, therapy for amputees is not one-size-fits-all, so it’s important to be selective about your therapist. Once you know what you want in an occupational therapist, you can begin an informed search and your road to recovery.

How to Pick the Right Amputee OT for You

Occupational therapists follow seven core principles in their practice: altruism, equality, freedom, justice, dignity, truth, and prudence. All these core principles are important, but even more so for amputees going through a period of intense transition. If a therapist exemplifies all these values, then occupational therapy and prosthetics can make a positive impact in the life of an amputee. Here are a few important elements to look for in an occupational therapist after an amputation:

1. Treating the whole patient

Occupational therapy after a limb amputation is not only crucial for functionality, but also because amputee OTs are often tasked with caring for the whole patient. That is, occupational therapists work with patients to address the physical, psychological, and social effects of limb loss. When interviewing occupational therapists, ask them which services they provide and how they plan to address your rehabilitation with a “whole person” approach. You will be spending several hours with your OT each week for a long stretch of time, so it’s important that they care for your entire well-being, as this can make or break your treatment outcome.

2. Focusing on doing common tasks without a limb or prosthesis

The first phase of your occupational therapy plan should focus on doing common tasks without a limb or prosthetic. When interviewing occupational therapists, ask them which tasks you will be relearning to do first. Usually, these activities include getting in and out of bed, dressing, grooming, and homemaking. You need to make sure that you and your therapist are aligned on these activities and the expected length and rigor of treatment. If the therapist constantly pushes you to do certain activities that you are not ready to complete, for example, then that particular therapist may not be the best fit.

3. Ensuring your home is ready for you

Once you undergo surgery and are cleared to go home, an occupational therapist should work with you to make sure your home is ready for your arrival. Are they putting enough thought into the placement of objects and furniture? Are they asking the right questions to determine what you are most comfortable with? These are important things to consider when making a decision about which occupational therapist can adequately prepare your home with your specific needs in mind.

4. Incorporating fun into therapy for amputees

Undergoing an amputation is a major life change, and with it comes plenty of emotions, specifically feelings of loss. When searching for an occupational therapist, it’s important to find someone who knows how to make therapy somewhat fun as well. Does your therapist bake time in for cooking sessions or playing video games? Can they help you work on standing and balance while playing golf or another type of game? Not every aspect of your treatment program should feel like work, and the right occupational therapist will make sure you can enjoy the healing process occasionally.

Finding the right occupational therapist after an amputation can be a daunting task. After all, you will be trusting your care to someone you don’t even know during a major change in your life. With the right resources, however, you can make an informed decision that works best for you. If you have questions about occupational therapy with a prosthesis, contact the professionals at Prosthetic One today.