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June 1975

The Quality of Hope for the Amputee

Author Affiliations

KIM Institute of Rehabilitative Medicine 240 Central Ave East Orange, NJ 07018; Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine 400 E 34th St New York, NY 10016

Arch Surg. 1975;110(6):760. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1975.01360120078017

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Maintenance of hope for the future is vital to the psychological well-being of an amputee. It enlists his cooperation and that of his family in therapeutic efforts on his behalf. But if the surgeon ebulliently instills in the amputee an unrealistic concept of potential for future function, he creates a basis for later disillusion that is sure to lead to depression, resentment, and, sometimes, efforts at legal redress. We must require honest appraisal at all stages of the amputee's treatment if we expect to retain his respect and obtain his cooperation.

We recommend the following items for discussion with the patient and his family prior to operation (where feasible) and repeatedly afterward. The traumatic amputee should be told.

  1. You will feel the sensation of a "phantom limb." This is normal in all amputees and is not evidence of psychiatric disturbance.

  2. You will be able to lead a functioning

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