FAQs about Limb Loss and Limb Difference for Children
1) How Can I Prepare Myself Emotionally for My Child's Amputation?
This may not feel like a satisfactory answer, but there is no way to truly prepare yourself for your child's amputation. It will be a dramatic change to their lives and for your family. However, you can have confidence knowing that others have been where you are now, and you can get through it. There are countless resources to help.
2) What Do I Say to My Child?
You know your child better than anyone, so you really are the expert on what to say and when to be silent. However, here are a few guiding principles for how to talk to your child through the process:
- Be Honest: You may be tempted to try to conceal the truth about the situation and process. This is not the time to hide or stretch the truth.
- Be Real: Set realistic expectations about how adults and children will react to your child’s limb loss or limb difference.
- Be Helpful: Help your child develop strategies for how to talk to their peers. Your child should not have to try to hide from their limb loss or limb difference. They can help their classmates and teachers understand how they want to be treated.
- Be Positive: You do not want to dismiss your child’s concerns. You want to make sure they feel heard. At the same time, you need to be their biggest supporter and cheerleader.
3) Where Can I Find Resources and Education?
You will want to read and gain as much information as possible; however, it is important to gain your education from the right sources. You can find excellent information and support from the Amputee Coalition of America and Association of Children’s Prosthetic-Orthotic Clinics (ACPOC).
4) How Do I Prepare My Child for Reactions from Other Children and Adults?
Be honest with your child about how other children and adults may react. It is likely that many will be tempted to avoid your child, which can lead to feelings of isolation. Help your child develop strategies for talking to their peers about their limb loss, their prosthetic device and how it works, and sharing their story.
5) How Will I Know How My Child Is Feeling?
You want to encourage your child to share their feelings. At the same time, you're going to have to resist the urge to "fix" their concerns.
Rather than try to make them feel more positive, help them find their own creative outlets. Encourage writing, painting and art, and sports and hobbies that they can and will enjoy.
6) When Do We Begin Talking about Prosthetics?
You can begin talking about the process of being fitted for a prosthetic device early. Orthopedic Appliance Company (OAC) specializes in restoring mobility and independence to individuals confronting the absence of a limb, either through amputation or congenital difference.
The sooner our prosthetic staff can become involved with the rehabilitation team, the greater the likelihood of an optimal outcome.
7) Should I Find a Support Group?
One of the best ways to navigate limb loss and limb difference is through support groups. Connecting with people who are at different stages of the process will help provide strength for you and your child. Both of you will benefit from the wisdom of those who have gone before, as well as knowing there are others at similar stages as you.
Before long, you will find it just as rewarding to be the one giving the advice to those who are new to it all.
8) How Can I Stay Strong for My Child?
There is nothing you wouldn't do for your child. However, you need to make sure you are taking care of yourself. You need your own support system, hobbies, and down time to ensure that you are ready to be there every day for your child.
9) When Will Everything Feel Normal?
Things are not going to return to normal. However, over time, you will establish a new normal. It will be important to establish a routine for your family and child that maximizes strengths and minimizes challenges. You will need to think through everything:
- How to lay out clothes to make dressing easier
- Where to place toothbrushes and other hygiene items
- How and when to prepare breakfast conveniently
- When and how to pack bags, load the car, and depart with plenty of time to get to work and school without being rushed
While things will not “return to normal” so to speak, as soon as you can establish a routine that works for everyone, you will be on the path to a healthy new normal. Even small things, such as finding an accessible playground, can go a long way in boosting morale and navigating the change with hope.
If your child is experiencing limb loss or limb difference, the team at Orthopedic Appliance Company is here to provide the highest quality prosthetic devices. Contact us for more information about artificial limbs for children and adults.