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Vol. 36 No. 3, July 1999


Issues of importance reported by persons with lower limb amputations and prostheses

Marcia W. Legro, PhD; Gayle Reiber, MPH, PhD; Michael del Aguila, PhD; Megan J. Ajax, BS; David A. Boone, CP, MPH; Jerrie A. Larsen, RN, CRA; Douglas G. Smith, MD; Bruce Sangeorzan, MD

University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195; VA Puget Sound Health Care System-Seattle Division, 98108; Washington Dental Service, Seattle, WA; Battelle, Seattle, WA; Prosthetics Research Study, Seattle, WA 98122

Abstract--The purpose of this paper is to report prosthesis-related issues of importance that were identified by a diverse group of persons living with lower limb amputations (LLA) and prostheses. These perceptions and themes validate some old assumptions and challenge others, report both common and unusual experiences, and indirectly identify the information level of our respondents concerning prostheses. Persons with LLA were identified from computerized rosters at a level one regional trauma center and at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System-Seattle, Division. Inclusion criteria specified that respondents were to: 1) be one or more years post-unilateral amputation at the Syme's level (ankle disarticulation) or higher, 2) use their prosthesis at least 5 days a week, 3) read English, and 4) be able to provide informed consent. Respondents completed the Prosthesis Evaluation Questionnaire-field version (PEQ) and the standard form (SF)-36, a health status measure. Of 114 persons who agreed to participate, 92 (85% male, mean age 55 years) responded to the questionnaire and graded the personal importance of various characteristics and qualities of their prosthesis. The number of years since their last amputation ranged from 1 to 53 years. Four Themes of Interest were identified from responses to open-ended questions about living with a prosthesis. These themes included the fit of the socket with the residual limb, aspects of the mechanical functioning of the prosthesis, other nonmechanical qualities, and advice about adaptation to life with a prosthesis with support from others. Future research is recommended to adjust aspects of the fit of the prosthesis with the residual limb. Implementing periodic check-up visits could uncover problems and eliminate unnecessary suffering.

Key words: lower limb amputation, lower limb prosthesis, quality of life, rehabilitation.

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