What Support Can Family and Friends Provide to an Amputee?

An individual losing a limb can have a life-changing impact, including requiring additional support from their loved ones. To help you understand what support you can provide as a family member or friend, we spoke to occupational therapist Emma Benfield.

Emma is a qualified occupational therapist and associate case manager working alongside Bush & Co. Emma works with patients who have undergone amputations, providing specialist advice and guidance in the management of upper and lower limb amputations, complex injuries and their subsequent mental health conditions, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How Family and Friends Can Support an Amputee

As with everything in life, a good support network is key to the best possible outcome. It is important that friends and family understand what is happening. You should talk openly (if you are comfortable in doing so) about day-to-day life and challenges that an amputee might face, and provide practical ways to help. 

John, a 29-year-old client who underwent an above-the-knee amputation in a workplace accident six years ago, said: “A lot of my friends didn’t really know what to say to me. When I asked them for practical help, things really changed and they felt more comfortable. For example, one friend would push my little boy in his buggy whilst I would practice walking outside with my prosthetic limb”. 

Thinking about small, practical and easy ways friends and family can help is a great way of getting them involved, maintaining relationships and helping you in your recovery at the same time. There are also a growing number of social media accounts and resources to give ideas and support - for example, Paralympian Megan Absten has uploaded videos on getting dressed with one arm, using a hairdryer with one arm, and a series on living life after an amputation. She is one of several increasingly successful social media accounts giving ideas and insights into living life following an amputation.

Outside of the NHS, What Support is Available for Amputees?

There are some brilliant commercial services that are well established in providing amputee rehabilitation and support, such as Pace Rehabilitation for prosthetic rehabilitation and STEPS, which provides amputee rehabilitation. 

If an amputee is obtaining treatment under the Rehabilitation Code of Practice, their case manager can discuss commercial and private options that can complement any treatment they may be receiving through their NHS trust or local authority. 

Private services have been particularly vital during the COVID pandemic where, sadly, many NHS services have experienced severe delays due to the pandemic.

What Support is Available to Help an Amputee Return to Work?

Returning to work is a very common concern and priority for clients who have had an amputation. Many people worry about the financial impact having an amputation may have, particularly if they do not know how, or when, they can return to work. Each case is individual, and there is no ‘set’ time for going back to work. 

There are many options for vocational rehabilitation and input that can make returning to work easier. Bilateral upper limb amputees, for example, can access voice recognition technology to enable computer use, while ergonomic setups for a workstation can accommodate a lower limb amputation. Government schemes, such as Access to Work, can assess and provide equipment and adaptations for going back to work with an amputated limb.

Sometimes a person will require support in returning back to a previous role that is now difficult, or think about retraining. An occupational therapist or vocational consultant will be able to identify issues and solutions, increasing the likelihood of overcoming any barriers in returning to work. 

The evidence base showing the physical, emotional and mental benefits of working is extensive, and returning to work should not be impossible or too hard to achieve with the right support and plan in place.

One of the biggest challenges after having an amputation is wondering if you will be able to live a life you want, and feel like ‘you’ again. Even if the amputation was expected and has made life easier in terms of increasing function and reducing pain, issues around self-esteem can be prominent. 

Having an amputation does not mean that it is not possible to live a fulfilled, meaningful and independent life. Accessing support, particularly during the first two to three years, is essential as the challenges and sense of loss can be overwhelming. Knowing, and understanding the support and options that you have access to is vital. Many, many people come through, survive, and thrive following an amputation.

Making a Claim for Compensation

If you have undergone an amputation due to medical negligence, i.e. it could have been avoided with better care and treatment while in hospital, our clinical negligence solicitors can help establish whether you are entitled to make a claim.

Compensation can help with the cost of adjusting to life following the loss of a limb caused by medical negligence. JMW Solicitors has helped numerous individuals and their families make successful claims for amputations that could have been avoided. For more information on making an amputation claim, visit our dedicated page.

For a free consultation, call us on 0345 872 6666, or complete our online enquiry form to request a call back from one of our specialist solicitors.

Emma Benfield - Occupational Therapist.png

Emma Benfield
Occupational Therapist

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