What to Expect During OT after an Amputation
Whether it is a wound that has refused to heal or you got too close to the table saw, when an amputation of a finger occurs it can be a traumatic experience. After your doctor or surgeon has deemed you appropriate for therapy, you will be set up for an evaluation. At the evaluation, your therapist will assess your affected finger(s) in several different ways: the amount of swelling, range of motion of the unaffected joints, how well your incision is healing, and if you have any involvement of the nerves in the other parts of your hand.
Usually, the first few therapy visits focus on how to take care of your incision, range of motion exercises to prevent stiffness or increase flexibility of the other joints of your hand, controlling swelling, and shaping the stump by wrapping using a certain technique.
After the incision(s) is well healed, scar massage is started. This will help the area not only normalize in appearance but prevents the scar tissue from adhering to underlying structures. Scar tissue can also interfere with achieving desired motion and cause the area to become itchy, painful, sensitive, or even raised. If you are experiencing numbness or sensitivity of the stump, a sensory program is started to retrain those nerves to communicate with the brain in a normal way instead of over- or under-reacting.
The last phase of therapy after an amputation consists of activity modifications or adaptive equipment training to safely return to doing the things that are important to you. Whether it’s playing baseball, shuffling a deck of cards, returning to work, or making a cup of coffee, what is important to you is important to your therapist.
If you experience an amputation, please talk to your surgeon or doctor about seeing an occupational therapist for best possible outcomes from a less than ideal situation.
Learn more about Katherine Branch, OTR-L.