Diabetes Self-Management Blog

In view of blogger Jan Chait’s recent surgery — a below-the-knee-amputation of her left leg — I thought I’d talk to some experts on this topic to see if I could round up some information and advice for Jan to guide her in the days ahead. I first talked to Amber Fitzsimmons, a physical therapist and mobility adviser for BraunAbility, a company that remanufactures minivans to make them accessible to wheelchairs and scooters.

Amber had lots of tips for the healthiest possible recuperation, including these key points:

• Gather and use your health-care team

• Set some specific goals for your recovery

• Attend to pain early

• Get help stopping smoking if you smoke

Gather and use your health-care team
Recovering and regaining mobility after an amputation takes a lot of work in many different areas. That’s why having a recovery team with a variety of specialists is the best approach. What follows is not a comprehensive list of everyone who might be involved in a person’s care after the surgery, but it describes some of the key players:

• Physical therapist (PT) and occupational therapist (OT). The PT and the OT work together to help a person regain mobility. Typically, they start working with a person in the hospital and continue after the person is discharged, either to home or to a rehabilitation center. The work of the PT and OT includes teaching the person exercises to strengthen the muscles needed to support the body during movement, “transfer” training (teaching the person how to get safely from bed to wheelchair to toilet, etc.), and teaching a person to use mobility equipment. It may also include a home safety evaluation and recommendations for home modifications, such as the installation of grab bars.

• Nutritionist or dietitian. According to Amber, the value of good nutrition after an amputation cannot be underestimated. Adequate protein, in particular, is needed to promote wound healing. And of course, good nutrition is important for managing blood glucose levels, as well. Even a person who normally does well with meal planning for diabetes would benefit from meeting with a nutritionist after an amputation to discuss special or changing nutrition needs.

• Psychotherapist, support group, supportive friends and family members. Getting social, emotional, and practical support following an amputation is also critical. Of course, Jan knows she can always call her supporters here at Diabetes Self-Management, but she might also want to check out the National Peer Network of the Amputee Coalition of America to connect with people who are facing similar challenges.

• Physiatrist. Pronounced “phiz ī’ a trist” (with the accent on the long “i”), a physiatrist is a rehab doctor who specializes in long-term disability medicine, including pain associated with amputation, such as phantom limb pain. (To read more about this specialty, go to the Web site of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.) According to Amber, this is the person to turn to if phantom pain — or other types of pain — become an issue.

Set some specific goals for your recovery
For some people, walking may be a primary goal after amputation, while for others it may not. Whichever the case, it’s important to set some goals to work toward after an amputation, such as attending a special event that’s coming up or being able to perform certain activities around the house.

Attend to pain early
The earlier you get help for pain the better, and probably the best person to turn to for post-amputation pain is a physiatrist.

Get help stopping smoking if you smoke
Smoking is one of the worst things you can do to promote wound healing. Even occasional smoking delays wounds healing, so anyone who smokes would do well to seek help for stopping.


  1. The whole health care team would certainly help Jan Chait from recovery from the surgery.It would be better to seek advices from psychotherapists in such situations as they would provide mental support.

    Posted by Peter |

Post a Comment

Note: All comments are moderated and there may be a delay in the publication of your comment. Please be on-topic and appropriate. Do not disclose personal information. Be respectful of other posters. Only post information that is correct and true to your knowledge. When referencing information that is not based on personal experience, please provide links to your sources. All commenters are considered to be nonmedical professionals unless explicitly stated otherwise. Promotion of your own or someone else's business or competing site is not allowed: Sharing links to sites that are relevant to the topic at hand is permitted, but advertising is not. Once submitted, comments cannot be modified or deleted by their authors. Comments that don't follow the guidelines above may be deleted without warning. Such actions are at the sole discretion of DiabetesSelfManagement.com. Comments are moderated Monday through Friday by the editors of DiabetesSelfManagement.com. The moderators are employees of Madavor Media, LLC., and do not report any conflicts of interest. A privacy policy setting forth our policies regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of certain information relating to you and your use of this Web site can be found here. For more information, please read our Terms and Conditions.



Disclaimer of Medical Advice: You understand that the blog posts and comments to such blog posts (whether posted by us, our agents or bloggers, or by users) do not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs. The opinions and other information contained in the blog posts and comments do not reflect the opinions or positions of the Site Proprietor.

Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring — Part 3: Smart Monitoring

10 Keys to Long-Term Weight Loss

Take Your Best Shot: Stay Up to Date on Vaccines

Complete table of contents
Subscription questions