Hesperian Health Guides
Chapter 27: Amputations
Every day 20,000 people visit the HealthWiki for lifesaving health information. A gift of just $5 helps make this possible!
Make a gift to support this essential health information people depend on.
An amputation is the loss of some part of the body. Rarely, children are born without one or both hands or feet. More often, children lose an arm or leg because of accidents and increasingly because of war. Or limbs must be cut off because of advanced bone infections or dangerous tumors (cancer).
Deciding what to do for a child with an amputation depends on a number of things, including the age of the child at the time of amputation, the amount of amputation, and above all, what the child (and parents) want and accept.
|MISSING BOTH HANDS
|He will probably want and accept hooks, or whatever can help him hold things better.||Until he can get gripping hooks, figure out ways to attach tools and utensils to his stumps so he can do more for himself.||A child with high arm amputations from birth often learns to use his feet almost as well as his hands.|
|MISSING ONE HAND
|If she was born that way and is given an artificial limb early, she will usually accept it and keep using it.||But if her hand was amputated as an older child or she has gone for a long time without an artificial limb...||. . . she may prefer to keep using the stump, and refuse a limb even if one is made for her.|
|AN AMPUTATION BELOW THE KNEE (one or both legs)
|He should get an artificial leg as soon after the amputation as possible or by one year of age.||A growing child will often need a new, larger limb. Therefore, try to fit him with low-cost limbs that are easy to replace.||Limbs with detachable feet, although often expensive, can be lengthened.|
|ONE LEG AMPUTATED ABOVE THE KNEE
||Up to age 10 (or more) she can walk well with a straight leg (no knee joint).||When older, she may prefer and will often walk better on a leg with a knee joint (if the family or program can pay for it and can keep replacing it as the child grows).|
|BOTH LEGS AMPUTATED ABOVE THE KNEES||When older, he may prefer longer limbs that make him as tall as other children—even if this means using crutches.||Children with very high amputation of the legs may do best in wheelchairs.|
|When very young, he may move about most easily on short ‘stump’ limbs.|