The decision to amputate a limb after a car accident is often the doctor’s. There is typically not time in an emergency situation to consult with the patient. However, if the amputation comes later as a result of an injury, the patient may have the chance to be a part of the decision. In any case, an amputation is a major surgical procedure that requires physical and mental healing.
According to WebMD, the extent of the amputation and location will play a large role in the time it takes to recover. For example, a leg amputation will take longer to heal and recover from than the amputation of a finger.
The physical recovery typically happens within eight weeks after surgery. It starts right away with tending to the wound and ensuring there is no infection. Physical therapy is also important from the beginning to stretch the affected limb. In addition, physical therapy will help the person prepare for using an artificial limb, if necessary. It will also help a person to learn how to do daily tasks and adjust to the missing limb.
Phantom pain is another physical issue a person may go through. It is when the person feels pain in the missing limb. Doctors may treat it with medication. However, it may also require mental health treatment.
In addition to dealing with phantom pain, which often requires counseling to get past the grief of losing the limb, a person will have to learn how to adapt and adjust to the amputation mentally. Mental recovery may involve counseling and other services to help a person cope with the changes in his or her life due to the lost limb. Mental recovery can take much longer than physical recovery, especially if the person has trouble with his or her new body image or struggles with adapting to life without the limb.