When Your Parent Has an Upper Limb Amputation
by Amber Henson, on Jun 13, 2023
Receiving the news that your mom or dad has had a traumatic amputation or may need one due to an injury or illness can be devastating. It is difficult to see them go from being a strong provider who raised children to suddenly being in the position of needing care themselves. In many ways there may be a role reversal and there could be a lot for everyone in the family to process. In this article, we’ll go over the emotional and practical aspects of coping when a parent suffers an upper limb amputation.
It can be difficult to know the extent of someone’s injury in the days and even weeks following an amputation. Many people go through multiple surgeries in an effort to save parts of the hand or arm — sometimes these are successful, sometimes they are not. It is hard to know what level of care your parent may need after they recover, and the unknown can cause anxious feelings for both of you. When an amputation results in an inability to effectively grasp and pinch with the residual hand or limb, the biggest question is, “How am I going to do all the things in life that require two hands?” That is where education about prosthetic options comes in. The best time to learn about prosthetic options is as soon as the affected person is ready. Learning about what prosthetic devices are available and how the devices will be able to help with function can alleviate many concerns and give you and your parent hope for the future. Prosthetic devices have come a long way in the past several years, and even people with bilateral or high-level amputations can often take care of themselves after receiving their devices and learning how to use them.
If your parent is married, be sure to check in with the other parent as well. Being the spouse of someone who has received or is going to receive an amputation can be overwhelming, and it’s easy for them to put their emotions on the back burner while trying to coordinate care. Be sure to provide support for them and give them a break, if possible, even if you have to insist. There are organizations such as Well Spouse that may also be able to lend support.
You may find that you need to provide a lot of emotional and physical help for your parent. While you’re probably happy to help, it can also be overwhelming. It is going to be important that you take care of yourself also. Take time for yourself and reach out to others for support. Please know our Arm Dynamics clinicians are here to offer assistance whether it be through prosthetic education, prosthetic training or tips that we have learned from helping amputees and their families through the years. Please reach out to us to arrange a complimentary consultation — these consultations can be in-person or virtual.
If your parent has had an amputation or may have one in the future, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our clinical team provides information and support to both the patient and their family, as part of our holistic care model. If you have a comment regarding this subject, please leave it below. We hope you have found this article helpful.