The importance of communication between the patient and their loved ones cannot be overemphasized. Each individual will naturally have their own unique concerns that need to be addressed. For example, a child might be afraid that peers will make fun of him because his father is missing an arm. Or, a wife may be anxious about taking on responsibilities that are normally handled by her husband. Alternatively, she may even be afraid that he will be unable to support the family. Family counselling is an absolute must as a tool in the journey towards adjustment. The time period following surgery may also pose additional stress and challenges to a relationship that is not doing well. Hence, it also makes sense for those in difficult relationships to seek counselling, preferably prior to surgery. A tower of strength in peer support Other amputees can be a tower of strength in peer support and offer invaluable advice and frequently provide comfort around personal issues such as pregnancy and child care. Pre-surgery counselling enables a healthier emotional and physical recovery process. It helps the patient to feel supported, validated and to know that they have someone as part of their treatment team who they can lean on in respect of ongoing education, support and guidance. A support group is a safe haven where people can share and feel understood and validated. What your prosthetist can do to help Some patients may be reluctant to see their prosthetist when things aren’t going too well since they might feel that they are being bothersome or revealing failure. A prosthetist will therefore endeavour to ensure that the patient feels comfortable and will welcome these follow up sessions for any adjustments that may be needed. It is also common for small problems to become large ones and for such to cause limitations in terms of function and mobility. Hence a prosthetist will endeavour to address such problems before they affect the patient’s quality of life. Getting patients more involved in their own decision making and getting them excited and asking questions helps the prosthetist to ensure that a person is more empowered. A prosthetist will recognize when a patient needs outside help A prosthetist will recognize when a patient needs outside help beyond the scope of the orthotics and prosthetics practice and will refer the patient to other specialists. Possible underlying mental health concerns Telltale signs that may indicate that extra help is needed are such things as fatigue, missed appointments, low energy levels, impaired memory, difficulty in comprehending a task and poor hygiene. Such can point to underlying mental health conditions. If the patient voices suicidal thoughts or intentions, immediate action should be taken to assess mental status and take precautionary measures where necessary. However, it needs to be borne in mind that it is normal for people to experience feelings of sadness, denial, fear and anger in their own unique ways and time periods while others will adjust to their amputations with very few psychological problems. Knowing a good psychologist Knowing a good psychologist and being able to recognize at what point a patient may need to be referred are important factors a prosthetist will always bear in mind. Suicidal thoughts would be an obvious reason for referral to a psychologist and a person who may be struggling with body image, problems, anxiety, depression or other mental illnesses would also benefit. Peer support is also an important factor and a good prosthetist will know when to recommend peer support versus seeing a psychologist. Give Roger a call now on (011) 640 7198 or send an email to info@rogerwolfsonandassociates.co.za.