If you go back to history, there is strong evidence of prosthetic devices used since ‘antiquity’! In recent days, the need for prosthetic limbs for children has witnessed a typical increase, much like their adult counterparts. While there are children who often have amputated limbs sadly because of accidents or illnesses if any; these are usually used by those people who experience congenital limb malformation that affects the upper limbs.
What are Prosthetics?
In simple terms, child prosthetics or artificial limbs use to act as effective alternatives to the upper limb, lower limb, or missing limb. Anyone who has had to amputate any of these limbs resorts to a prosthesis.
After wearing this device, the amputee can walk around ably, maintain balance and get back a proper, erect posture. This very science that results in the formation of artificial body parts is hence known as prosthetics and has come of significant use to both children and adults alike.
How Must the Prosthesis be Used After Amputation?
Whether it’s the lower or the upper limb amputation, children need to be extra cautious when using the prosthetic device. Ideally, prosthetics are designed in two forms- endoskeletal and exoskeletal prostheses.
To get accustomed to the overall process after surgery, a physical therapist often visits the child soon, usually the next day. The therapist helps the child to get out of bed and then starts using crutches.
Additionally, the child is also taught how to make his or her movement a tad swift and safe, especially now that crutches have become the new add-ons in his or her life!
How are Temporary Add-Ons Helpful?
Sometimes, there are preparatory prostheses used, called ‘temporary prostheses’ or ‘pylons’ that the little child can start walking with, right after surgical intervention. This is mostly meant for quick rehabilitation purposes so that it eases the overall transition into something more definitive.
The good part about using temporary prostheses is that they fasten the agility and mobility of the amputee, post-operation. Also, complications of prolonged bed rest are minimized significantly, and often, the child is discharged early from the hospital, depending on the condition of the child. Following closely after amputated limbs is the early gait training, administered soon after.
Are there Differences in Perception Toward the Child Undergoing Limb Amputation?
One must understand that limb differences can often be acquired owing to an injury or a disease that requires amputation, or is congenital. In certain cases, children can also show aspects of both and then surgery becomes imperative to improve the residual limb.
Naturally, the emotional responses toward these limb differences also vary. Research also shows that children born with limb differences or pediatric prosthetics don’t feel much of a loss, simply because they knew their body deformity right from the start. As per this point of view, the early years of children who bore the congenital difference are not grieved over, only because they never felt this as a loss!
With social awareness and subsequent growth, the child becomes more conscious about the sense of loss and how physically ‘different’ he or she is, compared to those who have been blessed with functional limbs. Grieving or acting frustrated is normal then.
Now, on the other hand, a child who has acquired limb differences while growing up and has had to undergo surgical amputation feels the sense of loss more profoundly. As a result, the kith and kin of these kids must be specifically wary of both physical and emotional adjustments needed.
What About Parents’ Attitudes?
It requires no second mention that parental attitude towards limb amputation matters. Children tend to imbibe their parents’ reactions and actions. The more the parent becomes receptive and understanding towards the child’s limb difference and the need for prosthetics, the better the child will accept himself or herself, in addition to better-coping mechanisms.
Besides, a lot happens over how the parents tend to talk to the child, in person, and to others, and thereby treat him or her publicly. This way, outsiders too, learn the correct behavioral tendencies towards the little child.
What is important to understand is that there are individual differences towards amputated limbs. While some parents allow the child complete autonomy about using the prosthetics, others feel the use must be discarded after a certain point.
Also, whether the prosthesis should be used part-time, full-time, or not at all, are an equal concern. In aspects of child-raising, one shouldn’t forget that the decision-making power regarding the use of prosthetics should be a joint initiative. You must pay heed to the child’s view as it changes with time.