Objective: To examine the long-term outcomes of persons undergoing trauma-related amputations, and to explore factors affecting their physical, social, and mental health and the role of inpatient rehabilitation in improving such outcomes.
Design: Abstracted medical records and interview data sought for a retrospective cohort of persons who had undergone a lower-limb trauma-related amputation.
Participants: Patients identified with a principal or secondary diagnosis of a trauma-related amputation to the lower extremity at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center between 1984 and 1994. Patients with spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury were excluded.
Results: Of 146 patients who had trauma-related amputations to the lower limb at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center during the study period, nearly 9% died during the acute admission and 3.5% died after discharge. About 87% of all trauma-related amputations involved males, and roughly three quarters involved white persons. About 80% of all amputations occurred before age 40. The health profile of traumatic amputee subjects interviewed in the study (n = 78, 68% response rate) was systematically lower than that of the general US population for all SF-36 scores. The differences in profiles were largest among SF-36 scales sensitive to differences in physical health status, particularly physical functioning, role limitations due to physical health, and bodily pain. About one fourth of persons with a trauma-related amputation reported ongoing severe problems with the residual limb, including phantom pain, wounds, and sores. The number of inpatient rehabilitation nights significantly improved the ability of patients with amputation to function in their physical roles, increased vitality, and reduced bodily pain. Inpatient rehabilitation was also significantly correlated with improved vocational outcomes.
Conclusions: These findings suggest a substantial effect of inpatient rehabilitation in improving long-term outcomes of persons with trauma-related amputations.