Objective: Examine demographics, clinical characteristics and rehabilitation outcomes of lower-limb amputees, using the Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre (AROC) database.
Methods: Lower-limb amputee rehabilitation separations between 2004 and 2010 were identified using AROC impairment codes 5.3-5.7.(1) Analysis was conducted by year, impairment code, Australian National Sub-acute and Non-Acute Patient (AN-SNAP) classification (S2-224, Functional Independence Measure (FIM) motor(Mot) score 72-91; S2-225, FIM (Mot) score 14-71) and states of Australia.
Results: Mean length of stay (LOS) for all lower-limb amputee episodes was 36.1 days (95% confidence interval (CI): 35.4-36.9). Majority of episodes were unilateral below knee (63.6%), males (71.8%) with a mean age of 67.9 years (95% CI: 67.6-68.3). Year-on-year analysis revealed a trend for increasing LOS and decreasing age. Analysis by impairment code demonstrated no significant difference in rehabilitation outcomes. Analysis by AN-SNAP found that LOS was 16.2 days longer for S2-225 than for S2-224 (95% CI: 14.7-17.8, P<0.001), and FIM (Mot) change was 12.0 points higher for S2-225 than for S2-224 (95% CI: 11.5-12.6, P<0.001). Analysis by states revealed significant variation in LOS, FIM (Mot) change and FIM (Mot) efficiency which may be associated with variations in organisation of rehabilitation services across states.
Conclusion: Although amputees represented a comparatively small proportion of all rehabilitation episodes in Australia, their LOS was significant. Unlike many other rehabilitation conditions, there was no evidence of decreasing LOS over time. AN-SNAP classes were effective in distinguishing rehabilitation outcomes, and could potentially be used more effectively in planning rehabilitation programs.