Amputation is the removal of a limb, body part. or organ, usually as a result of surgery but occasionally due to trauma.  The most common underlying reason for loss of a limb is peripheral vascular disease, e.g. a blockage of blood flow to the legs caused by cigarette smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, or uncontrolled diabetes mellitus.

How to bandage an amputated limb

What sort of amputations can be performed?

Amputations can be divided into minor and major. Most vascular surgeons will have extensive experience in this type of surgery.

Amputation can be characterized from distal to proximal and from lower extremity and upper extremity.


Lower extremity amputation classified as:

  • Toe
  • Trans-metatarsal (TMA)
  • Below-the-knee (BKA)
  • Knee disarticulations
  • Above-the-knee (AKA)
  • Hip disarticulation

Below the knee amputations is the most common.

Upper extremity classification:

  • Digit amputation
  • Wrist disarticulation
  • Below the elbow
  • Elbow disarticulation
  • Above the elbow
  • Shoulder disarticulation

The closer to the body the amputation occurs, the more stability that must be provided by a prosthetic.


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is an effective way of revascularizing poor performing circulation, killing the anaerobic bacteria in diabetic ulcers and preventing amputation.

The Circulator Boot is also effective in patients of diabetes and arteriosclerosis, and in limb ulcers caused by peripheral vascular disease. The boot checks the heart rhythm and compresses the limb between heartbeats; the compression helps cure the wounds in the walls of veins and arteries, and helps to push the blood back to the heart.


Target areas for occupational therapy intervention vary with the location of the amputation and the stage of rehabilitation.  The occupational therapist has an important role within the pre-prosthetic and prosthetic stages. In the pre-prosthetic stage for lower and upper extremity amputation, the occupational therapist concentrates on limb desensitization, edema control, and limb shaping.  Treatment is also directed toward maintaining range of motion and positioning of the limb to achieve full active range of motion of the remaining joint or joints.

The prosthetic stage for the occupational therapist includes teaching the patient to put on and take off the prosthetic and the under-stocking, in addition to performing functional activities with the new limb. The post-prosthetic stage includes fitting for a final prosthetic and higher-level prosthetic use.


WebMD, article source: Amputation, retreived from:

Atchison, Ben J. & Dirette, Dianne K., 2007. Conditions in Occupational Therapy: Effect of Occupational Performance.

Kennealey, Moya., Morgan, Marlene J., Weiss, Donna., 2004. A Practitioner’s Guide to Clinical Occupational Therapy.