Amputation is an unfortunate but sometimes necessary treatment for people with severe peripheral vascular disease, bone cancer, serious infections, or traumatic injury. At NewYork-Presbyterian, our amputation rehabilitation professionals understand that the loss of a limb is more than a surgical procedure; it is an experience that changes your life. We assemble a team of specialists designed to help you prepare for, recover from, and learn to function comfortably after your operation.
A Team of Amputation Specialists
Your rehabilitation team includes physiatrists (rehabilitation medicine physicians) who coordinate your recovery program with nurses and nurse practitioners, physical therapists, occupational therapists, recreational therapists, and others who work closely with vascular surgeons and your other doctors. We create a rehabilitation plan to accelerate your recovery and help you achieve mobility and independence. Prosthetists are also key members of your team, and work closely with you to fit you with the most comfortable and effective prosthesis for you. When you return for follow-up visits with your vascular surgeon, we try whenever possible to schedule your rehabilitation follow-up visit for the same day, for your convenience.
Planning for Your Future
If your amputation is a planned procedure, our team meets with you before your operation to discuss your rehabilitation regimen after your surgery. We help you understand what to expect so you can be as prepared as possible for life after amputation. Your care team will explain the various types of therapies and prostheses we use and which may be best for you.
Our Services for Amputation Rehabilitation
Working with your other healthcare providers, your physiatrist customizes a program of services to meet your needs. Your rehabilitation begins shortly after your operation, while you are still in the hospital, and continues on an outpatient basis after you go home. Your rehabilitation may include one or more of the following approaches:
- Physical therapy. Physical therapists use a variety of techniques to help you get moving, reduce your pain, restore your function, and prevent disability. Many of our physical therapists are certified by the American Physical Therapy Association as orthopedic clinical specialists. Your physical therapist will show you what to do during each session, but it is important for you to do “homework” exercises to fully benefit from the treatment.
- Occupational therapy. Occupational therapists help you relearn the skills of daily living, such as getting out of bed, taking care of yourself, getting dressed, writing, regaining balance and coordination, and using supportive equipment. Their goal is to enable you to lead an independent, productive, and satisfying life. They can also help you manage phantom limb pain. You will receive guidance on exercises you can do at home to ensure you receive the full benefit of your therapy.
- Recreation therapy. Recreation therapists provide treatment and education and offer recreational opportunities to improve and maintain your physical, cognitive, emotional, and social function. They work with you to enhance your independent living skills and overall quality of life.
Keeping Your Safety in Mind
While you are in the hospital, we are committed to your safety and take steps to reduce your risk of falling. Your care team has special training in this area and will work with you to get in and out of bed and around your room safely as you learn to get used to moving after amputation.
A Dedicated Support Group for Amputees
NewYork-Presbyterian has a special monthly support group for amputees that is facilitated by a recreation therapist. It is for anyone who has had an amputation, whether or not you had your operation at our hospital. Here you can share your experiences and concerns with other amputees in a supportive and nurturing setting. Our team also works closely with Achilles International, which trains and supports amputees and other people with disabilities participating in mainstream running events in order to promote personal achievement. Many Achilles workouts take place in Central Park.
A Commitment to Research
Our rehabilitation professionals are initiating new research projects to better understand the effects of amputation on our patients’ lives and to improve outcomes. You may have an opportunity to participate in a research study.