7 resources for dealing with the sense of loss after amputation below the knee

The physical and practical changes you’ll navigate after an amputation below the knee represent only parts of a bigger picture. You’ll have a unique and complex psychological response that shouldn’t be minimized or ignored. Several factors can influence how you feel: Among these are your age, personality, social support system and the circumstances of your amputation.

Receiving evidence-based physical therapy after an amputation below the knee helps you increase your function and mobility. However, one study showed that only 55% of amputees received rehabilitation services, and many don’t stick with their program long enough to reach their full potential for rehabilitation. This leaves them at a higher risk for falls and injuries.

Physical therapy is one of several treatments you should receive from an integrated, multidisciplinary care team. Keep reading to learn about the resources that will help you through this transition.

What resources can help me cope after amputation below the knee?

Your life is unique, and losing the lower part of your leg will affect you in various ways. You may experience grief, pain, and changes in your abilities and body image, among other challenges. Your physical and occupational therapists can help you through many of the practical adjustments you’ll need to make. With their support, you can determine if a prosthetic could help you make a more complete recovery and live a more independent life.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you through the mental and emotional challenges that may follow after an amputation below the knee. Your therapist will ask you open-ended questions to help you understand your thoughts and feelings. From there you can work on challenging negative patterns and choosing a more positive, affirming outlook. The power of peer support groups shouldn’t be underestimated. Getting validation and inspiration from others on their own rehabilitation journey can do a lot to improve your treatment outcomes.

7 resources for coping with the sense of loss after amputation below the knee

After an amputation below the knee, it’s understandable to have some difficulty adjusting. Some struggle with a distorted body image, low self-esteem, feelings of dependence and a desire to socially isolate. Amputees may develop complex grief, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and complications to existing mental health conditions. Acknowledging your feelings and seeking out appropriate support are the most important steps you can take.

Research suggests that a multidisciplinary approach that includes mental health professionals will lead to the best treatment outcomes. Your treatments should focus on your needs as well as the needs of your caregivers.

Exploring the resources you have available is a vital first step. Here are seven options you can start with:

  • Your doctor — Your primary doctor and any specialists you work with are your best resources to help you make decisions. They can also direct you to additional support.
  • Your physical therapist — Learning how to get around and perform your daily tasks after amputation will improve your all-around quality of life. Those who receive physical therapy are more likely to have better mobility, endurance, and prosthetic fit as well as a faster walking speed.
  • Peer support groups — Your peers can provide a real sense of empathy, and they’ll have a different perspective on life after amputation than your therapists. Sharing your feelings and learning from your peers will help you make a faster and more positive adjustment.
  • Your neuropsychologist — Your initial thoughts and feelings after amputation are real and valid. However, they can turn into negative patterns and cognitive distortions that bog you down. Your neuropsychologist can help you understand your thought patterns and learn to accept your feelings, withhold judgment, and be more flexible in your thoughts.
  • Your occupational therapist — An occupational therapist will help you navigate everyday tasks after amputation and learn to use a prosthesis, if you choose to use one. Your OT can help you troubleshoot potential problems and process some of your feelings about changes in your abilities and your everyday routine.
  • A family therapist — An amputation can affect the roles and dynamics in your immediate family. Interpersonal therapy can help you deal with these changes and the emotional effects that come along with them. A family therapist can help you surface thoughts and feelings you’re not consciously aware of and process them together.
  • Mindfulness classes and practicesMeditation can help you manage chronic pain and get some relief. It’s another way to work on acceptance and life satisfaction outside of therapy.

Your Ability KC community is here to support you after amputation below the knee

The changes that come along with amputation below the knee are significant. But you don’t have to get through this challenging time alone. At Ability KC, our care community is full of therapists, specialists, patients and families focused on building resilience and creating positive new futures together. You’ll fit right in, and giving and receiving support will help you feel more grounded and connected to your community.

Patients in both our day rehabilitation and outpatient rehabilitation programs work with a multidisciplinary care team. Our patients and their families are included as decision-makers. You’ll have access to therapies and resources to help you advance toward your rehabilitation goals.

Are you looking for a rehabilitation program right now? Take a look at our admissions guide. Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial inquiry.