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Before and after surgery, you’ll work closely with a team of experts. The members of your team guide you and your family through surgery and recovery. Get to know the members of your team. Some of the people you’ll likely be working with are listed below.
Not every team is made up of the same people. But you may work with many of these experts:
The surgeon. He or she performs the actual surgery. The surgeon might specialize in one of several areas. This may include bones, blood vessels, or sudden injury (trauma). He or she may also write prescriptions needed for further care.
Nurses. Nurses provide care in the hospital before and after your surgery. Nurses also assist the surgeon and primary care physician.
A physiatrist. This is an expert in physical medicine and rehabilitation. He or she helps you during the postoperative period. He or she also helps you get ready for a prosthesis. The physiatrist may also write prescriptions needed for further care.
A physical therapist (PT). A PT teaches you stretching and strengthening exercises before and after surgery. You’ll learn to transfer (move) safely between two surfaces after surgery. The PT helps you learn to walk again after you receive a prosthesis. He or she also teaches you how to use walking aids, if needed.
An occupational therapist (OT). An OT shows you how to resume daily tasks. He or she also teaches you self-care skills after surgery. The OT can provide you with adaptive devices to help you do self-care tasks. This may include tools to assist you in bathing or dressing.
The primary care physician. This provider helps you with general medical care through the amputation. He or she also helps during and after recovery.
A prosthetist. He or she helps you shape your residual limb for a prosthesis. He or she also fits your prosthesis and teaches you how to care for it.
A social worker. He or she helps you learn about resources for support. This includes financial and emotional support or home help, if needed.
A psychologist. He or she talks to you about emotional issues surrounding limb loss.
A home health worker. He or she assists you with daily tasks at home during your recovery.
Your role in your loved one’s recovery is vital. You can give support by:
Helping to collect and remember information.
Going to all appointments.
Learning ways to help with pain management.
Helping with safe transfers.
Learning to help take care of the healing surgical wound.
Taking an active role in daily care.
Going to physical therapy sessions.
Peer counselors can be a great resource. They are people who’ve had an amputation. They are willing to share their story. Talking to a person who’s been through an amputation can be a great help. Peer counselors can answer your questions about life after surgery. Ask your healthcare team to put you in touch with a peer counseling program in your area.