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Preparing for amputation surgery

 

Unless you lose a limb through an accident or emergency procedure, you’ll be able to discuss the operation beforehand with your doctor. You’ll probably be overwhelmed by the news that you face amputation surgery, and may have dozens of questions racing around in your mind.

Good idea

Write your questions down as they enter your mind so that you don't forget to ask them when you see your doctor.

If you’ve prepared yourself well, you’ll understand why the amputation is necessary, and will realise that even though an artificial limb can’t ever be the same as a natural limb, it will probably be a whole lot better than a nonfunctional or diseased limb. Knowledge puts you at an emotional and even medical advantage: it reassures you, aids your recovery and ultimately helps you fight your fears. This is why we say that the better you understand why you need an amputation, what happens during surgery, and what the recovery and rehabilitation are expected to entail, the better you’ll be able to deal with the consequences of losing a part of your body.

 

Helpful terms

Surgeon: a doctor specialising in surgery.

Orthopaedic surgeon: a surgeon specialising in the musculoskeletal system.

Musculoskeletal system: the system connecting bones with other bones and muscle fibres via connective tissue such as tendons and ligaments.

Vascular surgeon: a surgeon specialising in diseases of the arteries and veins.

Prosthetist: a medical professional trained in the design, manufacture and repair of artificial limbs.

Physiotherapist: a medical professional trained in all aspects of human movement.

Biokineticist: a clinical exercise specialist trained to prescribe exercise for rehabilitation or to enhance performance (sport and work).

Occupational therapist: a medical professional who helps patients improve their functioning, typically helping them to return to work and regain independence.

Psychologist: a medical professional who works with patients in various ways, often giving counselling or psychotherapy.

Prosthesis: a prosthesis (plural: prostheses) is an artificial device that replaces a body part lost through trauma, disease or a congenital condition. The components of a prosthesis depend on the body part it replaces. If the prosthesis replaces a leg, for example, you can call it a prosthetic leg.