The reflection objectives obtained from this collaborative assignment enabled our group to better understand the limitations and effects of immobility in the preoperative and post-operative diabetic amputee. Through our research, we discovered that nearly 50% of all vascular amputations are caused by diabetes.
As depicted in our film narrative, the main character, a 55 year old female suffering from Type II Diabetes, refused to adhere to a well-balanced diet, monitor her blood-glucose levels, periodically missed her scheduled insulin injections and was unable to properly care for a diabetic ulcer that developed on her right foot two months previous. As a result, an infection ensued, perpetuating the immediate need for a below-knee amputation.We became sensitized to the emotional plight of our client throughout this process and witnessed despair, depression, anxiety and fear. Fear of losing one’s independence, having suicidal thoughts, experiencing PTSD, grief, anger, and becoming worrisome over burdening loved ones are also common emotions associated losing with a limb. They feel they can no longer enjoy the everyday pleasures they’ve become accustomed to and experience a sense of loss to some degree.
Following surgery, the amputee experiences a great deal of pain, furthermore decreasing the desire to regain mobility. Phantom pain is especially common in the amputee patient and may never fully subside. Medicinal therapies can help reduce the effects of pain; opiods to treat acute pain, benzodiazepines and antidepressants to treat chronic pain. Proper wound care at the incision site can promote healing and reduce the possibility of developing an infection. Use of a well-fitted prosthetic can also help relieve pain.
In essence, pain reduction greatly improves the likelihood of achieved mobility. The ability to cope with an amputation can be positively influenced by presence of adequate social support, psychological support, active participation of care by family members or loved ones, and providing a knowledgeable pro-active approach in regaining mobility through physical therapy and rehabilitation are all vital components in setting realistic goals and improving the amputee’s quality of life.