Surgical Services

Disablement Services Centre - introduction for amputees

Losing a limb is a traumatic and emotional experience. This page gives information to patients and their relatives about the Artificial Limb Service which is based at the Disablement Services Centre, Freeman Hospital.


About the Disablement Services CentreShow [+]Hide [-]

Where is the DSC ?

You will find the Disablement Services Centre (DSC) in a separate building at the front entrance of the Freeman Hospital grounds. It is the first building on the left as you enter the hospital grounds.

Transport/car parking

If you can, please arrange your own transport either by car or bus. Buses from the town centre stop outside the DSC. Please check details for your local area. Free, limited car parking facilities are available at the DSC. Hospital transport will be provided on medical need only.

What do we do?

We provide the Artificial Limb Service for people who either have had a limb amputated or are limb deficient.The team

  • Physiotherapist – their role is to physically assess you, looking at your strength, balance, general health and mobility.
  • Nurse – provides nursing care for all patients attending the DSC. their role is both educational and advisory, giving advice on all aspects of health care.
  • Occupational Therapist (OT) – their role is to see the upper limb patients, they assess, treat and give advice on all aspects of daily living.
  • Prosthetist (pronounced pros-the-tist) this is the person who is responsible for designing and fitting artificial limbs (prosthesis).

All staff will answer questions or concerns so please don’t be afraid to ask about anything that is worrying you.

Why have I been given an appointment at the DSC?

You have been referred to the DSC to talk about the possibility of receiving an artificial limb (prosthesis). An artificial limb (prosthesis) is not the best option for everyone. You will be assessed for an artificial limb, initially by a physiotherapist, either at the DSC or at your local physiotherapy department. Your wound will be assessed by the nursing sister at the DSC. They will decide when it is ready to be considered for an artificial limb.

You have been referred to the DSC to talk about the possibility of receiving an artificial limb (prosthesis). An artificial limb (prosthesis) is not the best option for everyone. You will be assessed for an artificial limb, initially by a physiotherapist, either at the DSC or at your local physiotherapy department. Your wound will be assessed by the nursing sister at the DSC. They will decide when it is ready to be considered for an artificial limb.

If you are an upper limb patient you will be assessed by an Occupational Therapist. If it is appropriate you may also be assessed by a prosthetist. There are many reasons why an artificial limb may not be suitable for you and these will be discussed with you and your family. If it is thought by the team that you would benefit and be safe using an artificial limb, then a limb will be made for you.

DSC contact details and opening hours

If you need any further information you can contact the DSC on 0191 2231184 or fax number 0191 2231251. Our opening hours are 8.30am-4.30pm Monday to Friday

What do I do when I arrive at the DSC?

Report to reception, the reception staff will show you where you can wait. If you attend by car please give the reception staff your registration number.

What do I need to bring with me?

A list of any medication you take. A carer or family member may accompany you on your first visit. If you are diabetic bring a snack and your tablets in case of any delays.

How long will my appointment take?

Your assessment may take up to an hour. If you are using an ambulance you will be here for longer.

Who will I see?

You will be assessed by some members of the DSC team. This may include the centre nurse, the physiotherapist or occupational therapist and the prosthetist (if appropriate).

What should I wear?

Wear loose comfortable clothes, a pair of shorts if you have them.

What facilities are there at the DSC?

Wheelchair access, disabled toilet, a café which is open 10am - 12 noon, a hot and cold drinks machine which is available all dayand a dedicated children’s fitting room.

What happens if the ambulance/transport is late or does not come?

Do not worry, if the ambulance is running late you will still be seen in the clinic even if you arrive late. If the ambulance does not arrive, ring us on 0191 223 1184 and a new appointment will be made for you.

Do not worry, if the ambulance is running late you will still be seen in the clinic even if you arrive late. If the ambulance does not arrive, ring us on 0191 223 1184 and a new appointment will be made for you.

Can I come in my own wheelchair?

On the first appointment at the DSC you can come in your own wheelchair.

If you have any questions about this visit you can discuss them with your physiotherapist or occupational therapist or ring thecentre on the above number.

Physiotherapy lower limb assessmentShow [+]Hide [-]

Why do I need an assessment and what does it involve?

You need an assessment to make sure that you are physically capable of managing to use an artificial limb safely and that it would be of benefit to you in your daily life. You will be assessed in a physiotherapy department often using an early walking aid such as a Pneumatic Post Amputation Mobility Aid (ppam aid) to see how you manage.

You will be given exercises to do that will help strengthen your muscles and make it easier for you to use an artificial limb. It is very important that you do these at home as well as in the physiotherapy department.

How long will it take?

You will usually be in the physiotherapy department for an hour but if you come by ambulance it could be much longer. You may need to attend for several sessions.

What should I do if I am unable to attend my appointment?

Please phone the reception staff on 0191 223 1184 as soon as possible so your ambulance can be cancelled and the physiotherapy staff informed.

Occupational therapy upper limb assessmentShow [+]Hide [-]

Why do I need an assessment and what does it involve?

You need an assessment to identify difficulties you may be experiencing with practical tasks. You will be assessed by the OT and the prosthetist to identify what type of arm you may be prescribed and how this will help you. You will be provided with advice and be taught how to carry out tasks one handed. You will be asked to think about tasks you would like to achieve and the OT will help work out ways of doing these.

How long will it take?

You will usually be with the OT for an hour but if you come by ambulance it may take longer.

What should I do if I am unable to attend my appointment?

Please phone the reception staff on 0191 223 1184 as soon as possible to let them know or call the OT office on 0191 213 7643.

Looking after your remaining foot and legShow [+]Hide [-]

How often do I check my foot and leg?

You should check your foot and leg each day. Don’t forget to check between your toes and the bottom of your foot. You can ask a carer/family member to do it for you. It only takes a few seconds and is very important.

How often do I wash my foot and leg?

If you do not have any dressings you should wash your foot/leg at least every other day. Make sure you wash and dry in between your toes. You can use a moisturising cream after you have dried your skin properly for example E45 or an un-perfumed moisture lotion.

What am I looking for?

  • Dry/flaky skin.
  • Swollen ankle or leg.
  • Redness/inflammation in your foot or leg.
  • Changes in skin colour.
  • Blisters or sores.
  • Sudden pain or discomfort in your foot or leg.

If you notice any of the above changes contact the DSC.

Can I hop?

Do not hop, unless advised by your physiotherapist. Hopping will put too much strain on your remaining leg. This leg has to do a lot of extra work. You are also at risk of having a fall.

If I am diabetic do I need to be more careful?

Yes, you need to:
  • Attend appointments for your diabetes
  • Check your blood sugars and write them down if advised to do so
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet
  • Attend chiropody for foot care
  • Never cut your own toe nails or skin on your feet
  • Make sure your shoes are a good fit- they shouldn’t be too big or too tight, this may cause the skin to rub or blister
  • Check the inside of your shoes to make sure there are no objects inside them
  • Always wear a clean sock. Make sure the seam does not rub your toes and that the elastic is not too tight on your leg

Pathways content section 20410Show [+]Hide [-]

Care of your residual limb (commonly referred to as a stump)Show [+]Hide [-]

How often do I check my stump?

You should check your stump every day. If this is difficult for you to do you can ask someone to do it for you or you may use a mirror.

Why do I need to check?

You are looking for any changes on your skin that may be a problem.

  • Check the colour of the skin, it should be a healthy normal skin colour.
  • Check the temperature, your stump should feel warm.
  • Check for any red areas, rashes or breaks in your skin.

How often do I wash my stump?

If you do not have any dressings wash your stump each day using a mild soap and rinse properly. Make sure you dry the skin properly.

Can I use any creams on my stump?

If you have any dry or flaky skin it is good to use a gentle moisturising cream daily. If your skin is very dry cream the skin twice a day. If you are unsure what cream to use ask for advice.

Do not use talc, this can make the skin too dry or may cause skin rashes. If you have a skin problem please tell someone when you attend the DSC.

Can I shave the hairs on my stump?

Never shave the hairs. This can make the skin become sore and itchy and could cause skin damage.

What do I do if I am worried about my stump?

If you notice any sudden changes or have pain that is not normal for you please speak to your doctor for advice.

Compression therapy sock – May also be known as a JUZO

You have been given this sock to help reduce the swelling in your residual limb. It will also improve the shape and give support. It should feel firm but not tight. If your amputation is below the knee and you have a stump support board please use it when sitting in your wheelchair.

How long do I wear the sock?

Wear the sock all day. It should feel comfortable. Keep the sock well pulled up making sure there are no wrinkles behind your knee or loose material at the bottom of the sock.

When do I put the sock on?

You can keep the sock on for bed if it feels comfortable. If you take it off for bed please put the sock back on in the morning when you get up.

When do I take the sock off?

Take it off at least once a day to wash and check your skin. You are checking for any redness, dry skin or other changes. If the sock feels tight or you have “pins and needles” or feel throbbing/numbness you MUST take it off for at least two hours.

You can try it again but if you are not happy please do not wear it, speak to your physiotherapist who can give you advice.

Can I wash the sock?

The sock can be washed by hand then rolled in a towel to remove excess water or it can go into the washing machine on a 40 degree wash. Do not use fabric softener, do not tumble dry – let the sock dry naturally.

How many socks will I need?

In time, your stump will go down in size and will change shape. If you feel the sock is too big tell your physiotherapist and they will measure you to check the size. When you are wearing your artificial limb at home for longer periods this is the time to possibly stop wearing the sock. You can ask the physiotherapist who is looking after you for advice on this.

General points

Do not wear the sock with your prosthesis unless you have been advised to by your prosthetist or physiotherapist. If your amputation is below the knee don’t let your stump hang down for long periods of time. It needs to be supported.

If your amputation is above the knee please make sure the sock is pulled up into your groin so that all the skin is covered and then fasten the Velcro belt around your waist.

If you have any questions about the sock you can ring the DSC and speak to either the nurse or a physiotherapist.

What can I do to stay healthy and fit?

  • Take your tablets as prescribed by your doctor. Never stop taking them without speaking to your doctor first.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables. Try and cut down on foods high in fat and sugar.
  • Try to keep your weight in control.
  • Do your exercises at home as advised by your physiotherapist.
  • Take care not to bump or knock your remaining leg on your wheelchair or on anything else. This can cause skin damage.
  • Stop smoking- for advice and further infomation you can speak to your doctor or the Centre Nurse.

If you have any questions or are worried about anything else please ask a member of staff at the DSC.

DrivingShow [+]Hide [-]

It is a legal requirement to inform the DVLA and your insurance company of your change in circumstances. Your ability to drive again depends upon your amputation and your car. Adaptations can be made to your vehicle to satisfy the requirements of the DVLA. It may be advisable to take specialist driving lessons before driving an adapted car.

What is the disabled blue badge scheme?

The Blue Badge Scheme is a service for people with severe mobility problems that enables badge holders to park close to where they need to go. The scheme operates throughout the UK and is administered by local councils who deal with applications and issue badges on behalf of the Government. If you want to apply for a badge you need to apply to your local council.

Guide to services and organisationsShow [+]Hide [-]

There are a number of services and organisations which can provide help and support to people who ha

Disablement Services Centre (DSC) - Provides assessment and provision of wheelchairs and artificial limbs.

Freeman Hospital
Freeman Road
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE7 7AF
Tel: 0191 223 1184
(Monday to Friday 8.30am - 4.30pm)

Disability North - Can advise on disability and mobility issues and provide information on equipment and adaptations.

- Can advise on disability and mobility issues and provide information on equipment and adaptations.

Disability North
The Dene Centre
Castle Farm Road
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE3 1PH
Tel: 0191 284 0480
Web: www.disabilitynorth.org.uk

Smoking Cessation

 

NHS Smoking Helpline: 0800 022 4332
7 days a week (Monday to Friday 9.00am - 8.00pm and Saturday/Sunday 11.00am to 5.00pm)
NHS Smoking website: www.smokefree.nhs.uk

The Limbless Association - is a UK charity for people with limb loss, their family and friends. They offer information on all aspects of limb loss.

- is a UK charity for people with limb loss, their family and friends. They offer information on all aspects of limb loss.
The Limbless Association
Unit 16
Waterhouse Business Centre
2 Cromar Way
Chelmsford
Essex
CM1 2QE
Tel: 01245 216670
Helpline: 0800 644 0185
Web: www.limbless-association.org
Email: enquiries@limbless-association.org

Citizen’s Advice Bureau (National Number) - Provides free, independent and confidential advice.

- Provides free, independent and confidential advice.
Telephone: 08444 111 444

Web: www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Driving Mobility Centre - Provide information, advice and assessment to individuals who have a medical condition or are recovering from an accident or injury which may affect their ability to drive or access a motor vehicle.

- Provide information, advice and assessment to individuals who have a medical condition or are recovering from an accident or injury which may affect their ability to drive or access a motor vehicle.
North East Drive Mobility
Walkergate Park
Centre for Neuro-rehabilitation and Neuro-psychiatry
Benfield Road
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE6 4QD
Tel: 0191 287 5090
Email: northeast.drivemobility@ntw.nhs.uk

Website: www.ntw.nhs.uk

Diabetes UK - is a charity working for people with diabetes, their family, friends and carers. To locate your local branch contact:

- is a charity working for people with diabetes, their family, friends and carers. To locate your local branch contact:
Diabetes UK Central Office
Macleod House
10 Parkway
London
NW1 7AA
Tel: 020 7424 1000
Fax: 020 7424 1001
Email: info@diabetes.org.uk

Age UK - is a charity working with and for older people. There are a number of offices across the region. Contact details are given below to find your nearest age uk.

- is a charity working with and for older people. There are a number of offices across the region. Contact details are given below to find your nearest age uk.
Age UK
Tavis House
1-6 Tavistock Square
London
WC1H 9NA
Free helpline 0800 169 6565

Web: www.ageuk.org.uk

PALS (Patient advice and liaison service) - provides advice and support for patients, families and carers. They work within NHS trusts in Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland and the North East Ambulance Service.

- provides advice and support for patients, families and carers. They work within NHS trusts in Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland and the North East Ambulance Service.
Freephone: 0800 032 02 02
Email: northoftynepals@nhct.nhs.uk

SHADA (Sexual health and disability allowance) – provides support regarding the sexual health of disabled people.

– provides support regarding the sexual health of disabled people.

Web: www.shada.org.uk

Leaflet to download

You can download the information on this page as a PDF leaflet.pdf

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