Building Community in the Amputee Population

Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation supports those who have undergone amputations.

Adventist HealthCare News
Building Community in the Amputee Population
The annual Amputee 5K Walk, Wheel, Run is one of many ways in which Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation supports the amputee community. [Photo: Adventist HealthCare]

Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation is dedicated to supporting community members who have undergone amputations. That support includes being a hospital partner of the Amputee Coalition. The annual Amputee 5K Walk, Wheel, Run is one of many ways in which Adventist HealthCare, a health system based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, United States, supports the amputee community and raises awareness of issues related to amputation.

“The Amputee 5K Walk, Wheel, Run has become a signature event for Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation,” Terrence P. Sheehan, chief medical officer for post-acute care and Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation, said. “It’s also a place we get to acknowledge our patients and all they’ve accomplished.”

Support for a Unique Population

During the 2022 Amputee 5K Walk, Wheel, Run, Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation raised more than US$50,000 to pay for such things as adaptive equipment and, for some patients, insurance copays. Financial assistance can make a significant contribution to enhancing the quality of life for those living with limb loss.

“Funds are used to directly support people and to help the Amputee Rehabilitation and Support program,” Sheehan said. “We are also at a juncture where we want to expand our amputee program. We’re looking at how the funds can support us so we can help others who may not know about the program.”

Beyond financial support, the 5K run promotes visibility and awareness of limb loss and the amputee community in general. Specifically, Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation seeks to address social isolation and mental health issues common among amputees due to their disabilities.

“In many cases, as a result of the amputation, there is a lot of staying at home and not getting out and living life for amputees,” Elan Burman, director of philanthropy and donor relations for post-acute care services at Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation, said. “The Amputee 5K Walk, Wheel, Run is about peer support. The event provides an opportunity to come out and enjoy some good sunshine, fresh air, and some comradery.”

Finding Hope through Healing

Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation’s Amputee 5K provides more than just funds and awareness for patients. Burman recalls one participant, Colin Potts, who, after participating in his first Amputee 5K Walk, Wheel, Run, found peace with the hand that life had dealt.

“The first time Colin participated in our Amputee 5K, he realized he was going to live a full, vibrant, and meaningful life,” Burman said. “He walked for miles and miles, surrounded by friends. It happened to be a very rainy day, and he persisted. Colin said that day, the prosthetic and he became one person.”

More than 500 people registered for the 2022 Amputee 5K Walk, Wheel, Run, many of them experiencing the event as Potts did.

“If people want to see what it means to be a resilient and courageous human being, they should come out to the Amputee 5K Walk, Wheel, Run,” Burman said. “They will see people overcoming and surmounting tremendous odds, and it is a beautiful and inspiring thing to watch. It is an honor to serve these people because they are some of the most remarkable human beings I have ever encountered.”

A Place for Rehabilitation and Support

Whether a patient was born without a limb or has lost a limb due to an illness or injury, Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation can provide physical rehabilitation and emotional support.

“The Amputee Rehabilitation and Support program has a comprehensive inpatient care component that provides post-surgical training to increase mobility and strength, heal the amputation wound, and teach the person how to use supportive devices,” Farhad Ostovari, clinical director for Amputee Care and Prosthetic Services at Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation Rockville in Rockville, Maryland, said. “After post-surgical training, patients receive a customized prosthetic and are trained to use their new prosthetic. The prosthetic training teaches them to walk with their new prosthetic and complete skin care and skin checks.”

When Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation patients are ready to go home, rehabilitation therapy continues at the outpatient clinic with specialists in prosthetic training. Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation also provides Home Care Services for those who need to rehabilitate at home.

Additional Support for Amputees

In addition to the Amputee 5K Walk, Wheel, Run, Adventist HealthCare bolsters the amputee population, their families and friends through the ongoing Amputee Support Group.

“The Amputee Support Group meets monthly in person and online,” Ostovari said. “Special events provide social support to help break down any social isolation the amputee may experience and include activities, such as the annual sailing trip and an annual picnic.” 

Patients can also take advantage of an eight-week program called Promoting Amputee Life Skills, which helps amputees adapt to their new prosthetic and connect with others.

“We provide life-long care and support for all of our amputee patients, but we also provide support for families,” Ostovari said. “Our amputee program provides training for an amputee’s loved ones, so they can learn how to help give care at home and understand what the amputee is going through.”The original version of this story was posted by Adventist HealthCare.

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