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PUBLISHED:
January 10, 2024
Updated:
January 10, 2024
|
by
Eddie Zepeda

Strategies for a Successful Return to Work After Amputation

Prosthetics

This guide is intended for individuals who have experienced an amputation and are in the process of reintegrating into the workforce with the assistance of prosthetics. It provides crucial information and guidance for patients adapting to employment after amputation and includes strategies for embarking on a new career or progressing in their current profession.

Amputation and Return to Work: Key Statistics

Amputation and Return to Work: Key Statistics

Research indicates that approximately 66% of individuals return to work following a limb amputation, with rates ranging from 43.5 to 100% for lower-limb amputees and 53 to 100% for upper-limb amputees. Notably, 22 to 67% of those with lower limb amputations retain their previous occupation, while a significant proportion (20 to 100%) of upper limb amputees may need to switch professions. Post-amputation employment often requires a higher educational level and tends to be less physically demanding, reflecting an adjustment in job complexity.

Several factors influence the likelihood of returning to work. These include general characteristics such as age, with younger adults often having a higher rate of return, gender, and educational level. Specific issues related to the amputation, such as the amputation level, multiple amputations, co-existing health conditions, the reason for the amputation, ongoing stump problems, the time elapsed from the injury to receiving a permanent prosthesis, the comfort of wearing the prosthesis, walking capabilities, and mobility restrictions, also play a crucial role. Additionally, rehabilitation processes, prosthesis-related factors, and work and policy factors (such as salary, job engagement, support from implementing bodies and employers, and social support networks) significantly impact return-to-work rates.

However, these findings have several limitations, including variations in sample size and the general population studied. The identified data underscores the importance of considering long-term outcomes and the possibility of varying return-to-work rates among different groups of amputees.

The Impact of Amputation on Physical Work Capacity

The physical impact of amputations significantly influences a person's capacity to work. These amputations bring changes in mobility, strength, and dexterity, critical factors conditioning an individual's ability to perform job tasks. Adapting to these physical changes is vital for redefining career paths, considering new limitations, and identifying suitable employment opportunities that accommodate these changes.

The Mental Health Impact of Amputation on Workplace Performance

The Mental Health Impact of Amputation on Workplace Performance

Amputation affects not only physical capabilities but also mental well-being, influencing one's performance at work. It can lead to challenges like depression, anxiety, and difficulty in concentration or memory. Rehabilitation and adjustments in the workplace are essential to support individuals in coping with these mental health impacts. The journey involves addressing the emotional trauma of limb loss and fostering an environment conducive to mental recovery and professional productivity.

Your Comprehensive Amputation Rehabilitation Team

For individuals undergoing lower limb amputation or learning prosthesis use, having a dedicated rehabilitation team is essential.

  • A Rehabilitation Physician: Tailors a health and functional recovery plan post-amputation.
  • Physical Therapist: Focuses on improving muscle strength, flexibility, and use of prosthesis.
  • Prosthetist: Designs and fits the prosthesis.
  • Occupational Therapist: Helps in adapting to daily life, with or without prostheses.
  • Rehabilitation Psychologist: Offers emotional support for coping with limb loss and related mental health issues.

Considering Prosthetics in the Wake of Amputation

Deciding on a prosthetic post-amputation involves evaluating various life and health aspects, including the type of amputation, such as upper limb amputation or multiple amputations. Leg prosthetics aim to improve mobility, while arm prosthetics, especially newer models, may integrate with the nervous system for refined motor control. Factors like younger age, pre-amputation health, and existing conditions play a role in determining suitability and tolerance for prosthetic use.

Navigating the Path Back to Work Post-Amputation

Navigating the Path Back to Work Post-Amputation

Post-amputation, many individuals successfully return to work, finding both financial stability and a renewed sense of purpose. The journey back to employment can vary, from resuming a former position to exploring new career avenues, depending on the individual's occupation type and the extent of adaptation required.

Resuming Your Previous Occupation

After an amputation, returning to the same job depends on the type of occupation. Workplace modifications may be needed for effective job role management.

Modifying Job Roles

Continuation in the same role might be too demanding for some. It's possible to remain in the same company but shift to a more suitable role post-amputation. For example, a plumber with a lower limb amputation might move to training or a customer service role, utilizing their expertise differently.

Exploring a New Career Direction

Some individuals opt for a new career more aligned with their post-amputation physical abilities.

This decision prompts important self-reflections, such as:

  • Which activities capture my interest?
  • In what areas do I excel?
  • What relevant experience do I bring?
  • What qualifications or skills do I hold?
  • What limitations should I consider?

Finding Job Opportunities for Amputees

Finding Job Opportunities for Amputees

Finding job opportunities as an upper limb amputee or someone with trauma-related amputations can be challenging. However, there are several effective strategies and resources available:

Networking

Leveraging your network can be invaluable. Inform your contacts that you're seeking employment. You can utilize professional networking sites like LinkedIn to expand your search and connect with potential employers.

Job Search Websites

Platforms like Jobsearch, Indeed, and Seek offer numerous listings. Use keywords related to your skills and desired job titles to find relevant opportunities. Setting up email alerts for new postings can streamline the process.

Direct Contact with Companies

If you're interested in a specific company, approach them directly to inquire about job openings. Be ready to explain how you'd be a valuable addition to their team.

Disability Employment Services

This government-funded program assists individuals with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities, including amputees, in finding and maintaining employment.

Amplitude’s Amputee Resource Directory: This directory lists numerous programs and services for amputee job seekers, providing year-round access to resources that facilitate the connection between disabled job candidates and employers. The directory includes federal programs, state, and corporate initiatives. Although it doesn't have a specific "job programs" category, conducting a keyword search with terms like "job training," "careers," "employment," and "work" yields many relevant entries.

Job Boards for Amputees and People with Disabilities

Job Boards for Amputees and People with Disabilities

Some notable platforms include:

  • Jobs Ability: Developed by a quadruple-amputee, this portal partners with Microsoft to offer job listings from leading employers, using AI to match applicants with suitable roles.
  • Disability: IN Inclusion Works: Used by major corporations for recruiting talented individuals with disabilities.
  • USA Jobs: The official federal government hiring portal, featuring opportunities tailored for people with disabilities.
  • Ability Jobs: Posts thousands of positions from diverse employers committed to hiring people with disabilities.
  • Recruit Disability: A nonprofit initiative providing job listings from a range of employers, including major brands and disability-focused organizations.

Career Advising and Workforce Development Services

These services can help you prepare for job hunting, including resume writing, interview skills, and negotiating workplace accommodations.

  • Vocational Rehab Agencies: Offer employment support for amputees, available in nearly every U.S. county.
  • American Job Centers: Provide free assistance to job seekers, including people with disabilities.
  • AgrAbility: Aims to enhance the quality of life for agricultural workers with disabilities.
  • Amputee Coalition Workforce Development Program: Offers career development meetings, resume assistance, and more.

Other Workforce Programs for Amputees

  • Centers for Independent Living: Offer employment support, including referral services and skills training.
  • AbilityCorps: Hosts disability job fairs and volunteer opportunities.
  • Job Accommodation Network: Guides job accommodations and employment issues.
  • Ticket to Work: Supports individuals receiving Social Security Disability benefits to enter the workforce.
  • Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship: Design apprenticeship programs inclusive of people with disabilities.

Thriving in the Workplace

Thriving in the Workplace

Whether you're starting on a new career path or facing challenges in your current role, there’s support available to help you excel in your job.

In the US, the law mandates employers to provide reasonable accommodations for their employees. Employers might also receive government assistance for implementing these workplace modifications.

Workplace accommodations can encompass a variety of adjustments, such as:

  • Modifying the workplace for better accessibility, like installing automatic doors or enlarging spaces for wheelchair movement.
  • Allocating parking spaces close to the building entrance.
  • Providing adjustable desks and ergonomic tools.
  • Rearranging workstations for easier access, such as positioning them nearer to restroom facilities.
  • Installing user-friendly handles and locks.
  • Equipping workstations with accessible computer and phone technologies, including specialized keyboards for one-handed typing or trackballs as an alternative to traditional mice.

Empowering Your Success in the Workplace with PrimeCare

At PrimeCare, our commitment extends beyond providing exceptional prosthetic care. We are dedicated to empowering individuals in their professional journeys, especially those overcoming the challenges of limb loss. Serving Las Cruces, Albuquerque, El Paso, and surrounding areas, our team focuses on equipping each client with the tools and support they need to thrive in the workplace.

Our approach intertwines advanced prosthetic solutions with personalized support, opening doors to new career opportunities and enhancing workplace success for our clients. Contact us to discover how our services can benefit your professional journey.

Request an Evaluation

If you have questions or you are ready to talk about prosthetic options, feel free to schedule a consultation at our clinic.

A grandfather with a prosthesis walks with his grandchildren.