Objective: To study demographically, amputation-, and employment-related factors that show a relationship to successful job reintegration of patients after lower limb amputation.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: University hospital.
Patients: Subjects had an acquired unilateral major amputation of the lower limb at least 2 years before, were aged 18 to 60 years (mean, 46yr), and were living in the Netherlands. All 322 patients were working at the time of amputation and were recruited from orthopedic workshops.
Intervention: Questionnaires sent to subjects to self-report (1) demographic and amputation information and (2) job characteristics and readjustment postamputation. Questionnaire sent to rehabilitation specialists to assess physical work load.
Main outcome measures: Demographically related (age, gender); amputation-related (comorbidity; reason and level; problems with stump, pain, prosthesis use and problems, mobility, rehabilitation); and employment-related (education, physical workload) information about the success of job reintegration.
Results: Job reintegration was successful in 79% and unsuccessful in 21% of the amputees. Age at the time of amputation, wearing comfort of the prosthesis, and education level were significant indicators of successful job reintegration. Subjects with physically demanding jobs who changed type of job before and after the amputation more often successfully returned to work than subjects who tried to stay at the same type of job.
Conclusions: Older patients with a low education level and problems with the wearing comfort of the prosthesis are a population at risk who require special attention during the rehabilitation process in order to return to work. Lowering the physical workload by changing to another type of work enhances the chance of successful reintegration.
Copyright 2001 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation