Effects of an Amputation on Family Members
by Amber Henson, on Sep 21, 2020
When a limb must be removed, it can be devastating for the individual who has sustained the loss. But they are not the only ones to be affected or suffer. In addition to spouses, whom we covered in this article, a patient’s children (young or adult), siblings, and parents may be affected by the amputation. In this article, we’re going to explore ways for those individuals to find support while their family member recovers and adjusts to their “new normal.”
First, know that it is normal to feel a wide range of emotions during this time, and for some time after. Someone you love has lost something vital to them, and in addition to other feelings, your worry for them might overwhelm you.
For young children, try to make sure to keep their routines as consistent as possible. And be sure to answer any questions they may have, but not go overboard. There’s no need to answer questions they aren’t asking. If possible, try to show them photos and videos of people with amputations living happy lives and read books on the subject.
For adult children of someone who has had an amputation, it can be frightening to see your parent be weakened, even temporarily. Be sure to practice good self-care. You do not need to be their superhero, nor should you assume that you will now be their long-term caregiver. Many people, even older adults, can recover from an amputation and go on to live full, independent lives.
If you are the parent of an adult child who has had an amputation, it can be awful to watch your child struggle (for parents of a young child who has required an amputation, we will have a different article at a later date). Give them the help that they need, and be sure to offer help that they may not have thought of, but do your best to help them get back to their independence — it will help maintain the relationship that they now have with you as an adult.
Lastly, as the sibling of someone who has experienced an amputation, you may feel like the glue holding your family together, as everyone else reels and recovers. Self-care is very important — you cannot give to others if you do not take care of yourself first. You may find therapy helpful, and you may want to recommend it to your other family members. You can find some links to psychiatrist and therapist services at the bottom.
Our Arm Dynamics clinical teams offer our Wellness Inventory patient screening tool that can highlight possible areas that may need to be addressed by a mental health professional. This tool can be useful to help start the process of discussing the impact of an amputation beyond the physical toll, especially for someone who is reticent to do so. If you are the family member of someone who may need help getting the mental recovery process started, or if your family member has experienced an amputation and is interested in learning more about prosthetic care, please contact us. We would also love to hear from anyone with personal experience — please leave your comments below.
Off-site resources and psychiatrist and therapist services:
- Practical coping strategies to help amputees and their families
- Psychologist Locator
- Psychology Today - Find a Therapist
- Better Help
For more information, see related articles here:
- Effects of Traumatic Amputation on Partnerships: Patient Perspective
- Effects of An Amputation on a Partnership: Partner Perspective
- Parenting When You Have a Limb Difference: Babies
- Five Keys to Understanding the Emotional Impact of Upper Limb Loss
- Getting Back to Work After an Upper Limb Amputation