Blunt vehicular trauma is the most common cause of severe lower extremity trauma, particularly motorcycle crashes. Occasionally, the injury is so severe that the limb cannot be saved, and amputation is necessary. The conventional treatment is to protect the amputation incision, provide physical therapy, and fit a prosthesis once the stump is mature. This typically takes a month or two.
Unfortunately, losing any limb has a significant psychological impact on our patients’ physical and mental well-being. The concept of immediate postoperative prosthesis (IPOP) has been gaining traction in recent years in an attempt to improve early mobility and mental health among these amputees.
A group from India designed a randomized, controlled trial to compare patients undergoing IPOP after lower extremity amputation to those receiving conventional prosthetic treatment. They randomly enrolled 30 patients in each group and measured differences in quality of life, depression and anxiety, and various mobility scores.
Here are the factoids:
- Both groups were modestly injured, with 85% having ISS < 15; this indicates that injuries were mostly limited to the extremity
- Mangle extremity severity score was also low, indicating the incidence of vascular and severe soft tissue injury was also low
- Quality of life scores for the physical, psychological, social, and environmental domains were significantly higher in the IPOP group
- The Amputee Mobility Predictor score (AMP) was significantly higher after 12 weeks after IPOP
- The Trinity Amputee Prosthesis Experiences Scales (TAPES) for psychosocial, activity restriction, and prosthetic satisfaction domains were significantly better in the IPOP group
- The physical screening tests for directional control and overall stability were also significantly higher in IPOP patients
The authors concluded that IPOP improves quality of life, decreases depression and anxiety, and increases mobility in amputees compared to standard therapy.
Bottom line: It is common sense that allowing early mobility would help our patients, both physically and mentally. This paper makes it clear that IPOP makes a very real difference. This small study bears additional confirmatory work, but given the level of significance found, the concept will likely be proven.
It does take some extra effort to apply a well-fitted early prosthesis. This typically takes place in the OR. The prosthesis must be easy to remove for wound care and protect the stump from injury while weight-bearing. It is best done by an orthopedic surgeon and skilled prosthetist at the end of the amputation procedure.
Hopefully, this concept will catch on to help patients with this potentially devastating procedure recover more quickly and retain their mental health.
Reference: RCT to study the effect of immediate post-operative prosthesis vs. conventional prosthesis on balance & QOL in BK amputees following trauma. AAST 2023, Plenary paper #21.