Case Study Amputation Nursing

In general, amputation of limbs is the result of trauma, peripheral vascular disease, tumors, and congenital disorders. For the purpose of this plan of care, amputation refers to the surgical/traumatic removal of a limb. Upper extremity amputations are generally due to trauma from industrial accidents. Reattachment surgery may be possible for fingers, hands, and arms. Lower-extremity amputations are performed much more frequently than upper-extremity amputations. Five levels are currently used in lower-extremity amputation: foot and ankle, below knee (BKA), knee disarticulation and above (thigh), knee-hip disarticulation; and hemipelvectomy and translumbar amputation. There are two types of amputations: (1) open (provisional), which requires strict aseptic techniques and later revisions, and (2) closed, or “flap.”

Nursing Care Plans

Nursing care planning for patients who had an amputation includes: support psychological and physiological adjustment, alleviate pain, prevent complications, promote mobility and functional abilities, provide information about surgical procedure/prognosis and treatment needs.

Here are four (4) amputation nursing care plans:

  1. Impaired Physical Mobility
  2. Risk for Infection
  3. Risk for Ineffective Tissue Perfusion
  4. Situational Low Self-Esteem

See Also

You may also like the following posts and care plans:

Musculoskeletal Care Plans

Care plans related to the musculoskeletal system:

Further Reading

Recommended books and resources:

  1. Nursing Care Plans: Diagnoses, Interventions, and Outcomes
  2. Nurse's Pocket Guide: Diagnoses, Prioritized Interventions and Rationales
  3. Nursing Diagnoses 2015-17: Definitions and Classification
  4. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V-TR)
  5. Manual of Psychiatric Nursing Care Planning
  6. Maternal Newborn Nursing Care Plans
  7. Delmar's Maternal-Infant Nursing Care Plans, 2nd Edition
  8. Maternal Newborn Nursing Care Plans

Impaired Physical Mobility

Impaired Physical Mobility: Limitation in independent, purposeful physical movement of the body or of one or more extremities.

Related to: 

  • Loss of a limb (particularly a lower extremity); pain/discomfort; perceptual impairment (altered sense of
  • balance)

Possibly evidenced by

  • Reluctance to attempt movement
  • Impaired coordination; decreased muscle strength, control, and mass

Desired Outcomes: 

  • Verbalize understanding of individual situation, treatment regimen, and safety measures.
  • Maintain position of function as evidenced by absence of contractures.
  • Demonstrate techniques/behaviors that enable resumption of activities.
  • Display willingness to participate in activities.
Nursing InterventionsRationale
Encourage him to perform prescribes exercises.To prevent stump trauma.
Provide stump care on a routine basis: inspect area, cleanse and dry thoroughly, and rewrap stump with elastic bandage or air splint, or apply a stump shrinker (heavy stockinette sock), for “delayed” prosthesis.Provides opportunity to evaluate healing and note complications (unless covered by immediate prosthesis). Wrapping stump controls edema and helps form stump into conical shape to facilitate fitting of prosthesis. Note: Air splint may be preferred, because it permits visual inspection of the wound
Measure circumference periodicallyMeasurement is done to estimate shrinkage to ensure proper fit of sock and prosthesis.
Rewrap stump immediately with an elastic bandage, elevate if “immediate or early” cast is accidentally dislodged. Prepare for reapplication of cast.Edema will occur rapidly, and rehabilitation can be delayed
Assist with specified ROM exercises for both the affected and unaffected limbs beginning early in postoperative stage.Prevents contracture deformities, which can develop rapidly and could delay prosthesis usage.
Encourage active and isometric exercises for upper torso and unaffected limbs.Increases muscle strength to facilitate transfers and ambulation and promote mobility and more
normal lifestyle.
Maintain knee extension.To prevent hamstring muscle contractures.
Provide trochanter rolls as indicated.Prevents external rotation of lower-limb stump
Instruct patient to lie in prone position as tolerated at least twice a day with pillow under abdomen and lower-extremity stump.Strengthens extensor muscles and prevents flexion contracture of the hip, which can begin to develop within 24 hr of sustained malpositioning.
Caution against keeping pillow under lower-extremity stump or allowing BKA limb to hang dependently over side of bed or chair.Use of pillows can cause permanent flexion contracture of hip; a dependent position of stump impairs venous return and may increase edema formation.
Demonstrate and assist with transfer techniques and use of mobility aids like trapeze, crutches, or walker.Facilitates self-care and patient’s independence. Proper transfer techniques prevent shearing abrasions and dermal injury related to “scooting.”
Assist with ambulation.Reduces potential for injury. Ambulation after lower-limb amputation depends on timing of prosthesis placement.
Instruct patient in stump-conditioning exercisesHardens the stump by toughening the skin and altering feedback of resected nerves to facilitate use of prosthesis.
Refer to rehabilitation teamProvides for creation of exercise and activity program to meet individual needs and strengths, and identifies mobility functional aids to promote independence. Early use of a temporary prosthesis promotes activity and enhances general well-being and positive outlook. Note: Vocational counseling and retraining also may be indicated.
Provide foam or flotation mattress.Reduces pressure on skin and tissues that can impair circulation, potentiating risk of tissue ischemia and breakdown.

Matt Vera


Above Knee Amputee


This case presentation will discuss the assessment and treatment of an above knee amputee (AKA) with the main focus being the Physiotherapists role in the patients’ rehabilitation. I will identify the treatment given to the patient evaluate its effectiveness and use the learning from the Lower Limb Amputee Rehabilitation Course to reflect on the care provided.


Transtibial,Diabetes,Geriatric, Peripheral Vascular Disease

Client Charactoristics

The patient is a 69 year old female, widowed with one daughter and supportive friends. She lived alone, was a smoker and retired nurse. Her medical background increased her fear and anxiety around amputation due to not wanting to be the one being cared for.
The patients’ past medical history (PMH) included peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and Type 2 diabetes. Consequently she suffered with chronic left leg and foot ulcers described as circumferential ulceration and ischemia of the foot resulting in constant leg pain subsequently leading to the need of amputation. Diabetes is the leading cause of UK amputations with the NHS estimating sufferers being 15 times more likely to require amputation. It is also identified that poor circulation predisposes sufferers to ulceration leading to amputation. This combination of conditions predisposed this patient to be at higher risk of requiring an amputation.Previously declining amputation due to fear she returned one week later to see the consultant as she was struggling to sleep and had come to terms with the need for surgery. Progression of PVD resulting in further reduction in circulation and therefore tissue necrosis is likely the cause for the increase in pain. Admitted to the vascular ward an elective AKA was conducted and resulted in a long AKA stump. This provided her with the best lever, better energy efficiency, muscular balance, preserving the strength of the adductors and a candidate for ischial tuberosity bearing prosthesis

Examination Findings

The subjective examination identified the details above and provided insight into her home set-up to aid discharge planning. Psychological impact of low mood and de-motivated and how this was impacted by her occupational background was identified. This was therefore incorporated into therapy goals making short-term goals to increase her independence on the ward as well as long-term with the aim to return home. The objective assessment included range of movement (ROM), strength, balance and functional ability. The patient presented with good Active ROM (AROM) but hip extension was reduced and difficult to perform in lying. Hip extension is the most commonly limited ROM in the geriatric population and has the highest potential to limit prosthetic success. Simple physical performance measures were used to ensure measures were meaningful to the patient; assistance required, increased clearance/number of hops, wheelchair use. These could have been used as part of the Amputee Mobility Predictor Assessment Tool to provide a more objective approach to determinant the patients’ ability to ambulate and measure function post-rehabilitation. This can be performed with or without a prosthesis therefore could be used throughout the rehabilitation process. The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) could also have been used as part of the examination of this patient. The residual limb wound was healing well however some phantom limb pain was present.

Clinical Hypothesis

From a Therapists perspective the patients’ main issue was the patients physical ability including reduced ROM hip extension but linking closely with this was her motivation and mood. Although low in mood due to the reasons behind this the Therapists were able to use this to help motivate and encourage participation in treatment. The phantom limb pain was also an issue identified for a need for treatment.
With the patients aim being to return home the patient was required to be able to mobilise a few meters to access her property. Therefore close working with the Occupational Therapists was required to facilitate returning home at a functional level. An environmental and a home visit (with patient) was conducted by the Occupational Therapist to ensure the patient had the equipment required and could function within her own property.


At the acute hospital she had been taught deep breathing exercises and AROM exercises post-surgery (BACPAR exercises). Therefore treatment consisted of AKA exercises review and transfer assessment. The patient practiced banana board transfers and sit to stand to a patient turner/ zimmer frame. Once standing balance achieved and duration increased “hopping” transfer practice was initiated. A zimmer frame was chosen over a wheeled frame despite the increase energy demand due to the increased stability. A zimmer frame was also favourable over elbow crutches as it provides a more stable base of support, reduces the falls risk and therefore potential injury as both older and diabetic patients are at higher risk of injury if they were to fall.

Incorporated was the encouragement of individual completion of AKA exercises as well as desensitisation techniques. The techniques encouraged were tactile stimulus on the residual limb using a variety of textures/pressure. From the course I have also learnt that “mirroring” the intact limb into a position of comfort can aid the feeling of an improved position in the phantom limb.

A wheelchair was measured and ordered to suit the patient taking into consideration the stump length (no stump board required). The patient required encouragement to use the wheelchair this was implemented by the MDT. Wheelchair mobility/rehabilitation indoors and out was also included to promote independence.


The patient returned home with the intermediate care team consisting of one care call a day, nurse to monitor wounds and Therapists to progress strength and mobility. On discharge the patient was self-propelling in a wheelchair and managing to mobilise a few meters with a zimmer frame. Her phantom limb pain was settling and wound was healing satisfactorily however remained oedematous. The patients’ attitude towards her ability and future had changed significantly. The patient was also referred to the artificial limb fitting centre for prosthesis assessment and ongoing care. Here she would be assessed for the appropriate prosthesis and mobility progressed with the prescription of a prosthetic being an MDT process including (minimal); the patient, orthoprosthesist and physiotherapist. The prescription process will take into account the type of device that should be fabricated and also the socket design, the various types of components and the choice of suspension. Due to this patient having an AKA she will have an increased energy requirement to mobilise. The course identifies that vascular transfemoral gait having an 100% increase in energy requirement. This is due to the increased demand on the hip and trunk muscles and the contra lateral limb to generate the energy required for stability and movement throughout the gait cycle. The rehabilitation process will therefore include exercise tolerance, muscle strengthening and correction of deviations to aid energy conservation.


Although the treatment provided was adequate to achieve the patients’ goals the author has learnt additional assessment and treatment approaches. However an assessment tool such as the Amputee Mobility Predictor Tool would have provided a valid and reliable measure to assess progress, intervention effectiveness, guide treatment and aid prediction of prosthesis mobility. The early rehabilitation process was applied with the exception of a compression sock due to a sock of appropriate size not being available. This would have aided to reduce the oedema and shape the stump in preparation for prosthesis assessment. Risk assessment and evidence-based practice was used to identify an appropriate walking aid for the patient taking into account her age and PMH of diabetes. A Pneumatic Post Amputation Mobility Aid could have been included prior to discharge however due to lack of resources and training this was not included in treatment highlighting a training need. An MDT approach was included throughout including referrals to the appropriate on-going services. The Therapy team particularly assisted this patient with the psychological impact of her amputation and loss of independence by ensuring goals where patient centred and realistic. This course has enabled the author to reflect on current practice. It has also increased the understanding of pathology and factors affecting successful mobilisation with prosthesis which will therefore be applied to practice to optimise patient care.



  1. ↑BACPAR Clinical Guidelines for the Pre and Post Operative Management Management of Adults with Lower Limb Amputations, 2006
  2. ↑BACPAR Toolbox of Outcome Measures Version 2, November 2014
  3. ↑Engstrom B, Ven CVd. Therapy for Amputees, 3rd edition. Churchill Livingstone, London. 1999
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