A study published in the June issue of the American Medical Association (AMA) Journal of Ethics analyzes the effects of various factors on post-amputation care and recommends development of a model system of care and education that would provide dedicated locations for assessing treatment regimens, training protocols, and technology for caring for people who have had amputations.
In the paper “Ethics in Rehabilitation: Access to Prosthetics and Quality Care Following Amputation,” the authors considered the impact of race, socioeconomics, gender, rehabilitation facility type, cost, and other factors on the type of care received after an amputation.
“The key to improving outcomes for those who have lost limbs is to ensure that they receive appropriate and comprehensive interdisciplinary care to address both their physical and psychosocial needs,” and yet disparities in the healthcare system pose substantial barriers for people who have lost limbs, according to the researchers.
Because federal funding has led to the development of some model systems intended to stimulate research and improve quality of care for complex debilitating disorders (e.g., spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and burn injury), and those systems have demonstrated encouraging results, the researchers suggest that a similar model for post-amputation care could also have substantial benefits for rehabilitation. They described the Military Amputee Treatment Centers (MATCs) as a possible model. MATCs facilitate the coordination of the various services involved in rehabilitation for service members injured in combat operations and include education, prosthetic services, surgery, physical therapy, occupational therapy, pain medicine, and psychosocial services.
Model systems of amputation care and education would provide dedicated locations for assessing different treatment regimens, training protocols, and technology for caring for those who have had an amputation, according to the authors. They also noted that a comprehensive investigation of prosthetic systems is necessary to establish their clinical benefits and their impact on the overall cost incurred by a patient following amputation, which may alleviate some of the healthcare disparities.