By Jennifer McCarthy, CP, Clinical Review Manager, One Call
Amputations often occur due to health complications, but limb loss may also result from a traumatic injury at work, home, or in the community. Most people rarely think of how to cope without an arm, leg, finger, or toe – or what it takes to return to their quality of life pre-amputation. For many, the focus of limb loss is on receiving a prosthesis. However, preparing for a replacement limb, and the follow-up once it’s delivered, isn’t easy.
Designating one person – such as a Care Navigator – to be the central point of contact when these situations arise from a workplace accident can significantly impact an injured worker’s ability to reach their rehabilitation goals. The designee’s main purpose is to stay with an injured worker throughout their recovery journey, developing a relationship with them, advocating for them, keeping things moving, and ultimately, tracking their progress toward recovery and return to life. In doing so, injured workers are best positioned for success and a life, as close as possible, to the one they had prior to amputation.
Communication is Key
Depending on the complexity, an injured worker may be eligible for prosthetic intervention as early as two weeks after a catastrophic injury. Certain cases require revision surgeries, lengthy hospitalization, and time in a rehab facility. When there’s a designated key contact involved early on, this individual can coordinate the required services prior to discharge, including medical supplies, durable medical equipment, therapy, transportation, translation, home health, and home accessibility.
Amputations are complex injuries, and there is a lot to coordinate. It’s important to have someone you can rely on to call multiple vendors and research comparable equipment and supplies.
Collaborating with Prosthetists
A central point person can also help to ensure the treating prosthetist is well-versed in various amputation levels. Making an arm for someone with a shoulder disarticulation amputation requires a separate set of skills than making a leg for someone missing their limb below the knee. The prosthetist must consider the individual’s immediate goals – such as becoming independent in the home again – and address requirements within the work environment.
Sometimes, the individual, their family, nurses, and the claims specialist may suggest various prostheses from internet research or social media. The prosthetist should discuss each prosthesis style, as well as their indications and contraindications. From there, it’s imperative all stakeholders agree on the care plan for prosthetic treatment before moving forward.
Follow-up and Encouragement
Once the prosthesis is delivered, it’s important that the point person consistently follows up to assess how much it is being used, whether the injured worker is progressing, and the possibility of returning to work.
There will likely be times when an injured worker may not feel like they are progressing as quickly as possible and will become frustrated. The key contact – with support from clinical staff – can determine if the injured worker’s frustration is associated with the prosthesis, the prosthetist, or the psychological impact of limb loss.
In some instances, they can even share their experiences from previous cases to demonstrate how others progressed. For example, when an injured worker convinced himself he couldn’t return to being a truck driver, his trusted contact shared a story of someone with a similar amputation who drove a truck again. She also suggested local support groups where the injured worker could engage with others who experienced limb loss and learn how they returned to doing things they once believed they couldn’t do.
Regardless of the amputation level, limb loss can involve complications at any point throughout an amputee’s lifetime. It’s important that a designated point of contact is following their case closely to help ensure they are getting the ongoing care and support they need to reach their fullest potential possible.
About Jennifer McCarthy
As One Call’s in-house prosthetist, Jennifer McCarthy is focused on supporting injured workers who have suffered from a work-related amputation. She accomplishes this by providing clients with optimal, cost-effective prosthetic treatment options that result in injured workers achieving their functional goals, both in and out of the workplace.
Jennifer is a certified prosthetist who has also served as an ABC prosthetics examiner and committee member. With nearly 30 years of experience in advanced prosthetics fittings and development, she regularly shares her expertise with prosthetists, adjusters, and case managers across the industry.
About One Call
As a leader in the workers’ compensation industry, One Call has an unwavering commitment to getting injured workers the care they need when they need it. Leveraging more than 30 years of industry experience and innovative solutions, we are moving injured workers through their care journeys better than ever before, providing exceptional, predictive, and responsive care coordination. For more information and the latest news, visit us at onecallcm.com, LinkedIn (One Call), Facebook (@onecallcm), and Twitter (@onecallcm).
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This is NOT a paid placement.