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Tips for the New Amputee
And their families and friends

Each amputee goes through their own personal struggle.
Whether the amputation is a result of trauma or illness, the feelings are the same. Anger, denial, depression - leading eventually to acceptance.

Some of us work through these feelings and are able to move on, while some of us face a harder struggle to find peace.

Most of our members at the National Amputation Foundation have been living with amputation for the better part of their adult lives.
You are not alone. We understand the fear and uncertainty that you face.

Over the years, we have drawn on our own resolve, taken strength from our loved ones and moved forward to create full and productive lives.

These tips come from our own experiences, as well as the experiences of recent amputees, our soldiers recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC.

These soldiers have drawn on their own personal experiences to help us get the word out... That there is indeed life after amputation!

Maintain a positive attitude.

  • Believing you can, leads you to the inspiration for doing.

Learning to walk again can draw more on mental strength, than physical.

  • The strength you get from within, will give you the courage to do.

Seek out other amputees. Find resources.

  • You do not have to go through this alone. We are here, ready willing and able to help.

Let me try and do it before you rush to help.

  • Trust me to find the way to deal independently with daily living.

Treat me like I’m a regular person.

  • I may have lost a limb, but I am still me.


When changing stocking on the shoe with the prosthetic, powder the inside of the shoe and slide in with the side of a shoe horn, with shoelace entirely removed. Use of a shoelace one length longer on prosthetic shoes will make it easier to tie.

Put identifying marks on stump stocks to determine thickness, i.e. 3 ply, 5 ply, etc.


If you use a walker, be aware that it will not fit into most apartment size bathrooms without going in and out sideways. Put your towel on the walker to make it easier to reach.

Attach a bicycle type basket on the walker to help carry things and cut down on trips.

A camping mirror can be hung from the shower head for easy use while seated in tub or stall shower.

Hang a shower caddy to keep all the items needed close at hand.

When using a walker, wear a sneaker or shoe. If you wear a slipper, you might walk right out of it and have an accident.

Install hand rails in tub for extra safety.


A high stool in the kitchen is useful to sit on at the sink or counter.

Consider keeping duplicate cosmetics, shaving equipment, toothbrush, etc near the kitchen sink.

A small unbreakable metal camping mirror can be mounted above the sink when in use in the kitchen.


When preparing to drive, have the drivers seat all the way back, enter car, and then adjust the seat.

When parking your car on a grade, park facing down so you will not fight the weight of the door.

In a parking lot, if possible, park so that no one can park next to the drivers’ door to allow easier access in and out.

Do not park next to a pole. You will have trouble opening and closing the door.


Publications available regarding accessibility and individual services of airlines can be obtained directly from the airlines or write for the publication: TRAVEL TIPS FOR THE HANDICAPPED, Consumer Information Center, Pueblo CO 81009.

Also helpful is the publication ACCESS TRAVEL; A GUIIDE TO ACCESSIBILITY OF AIRPORT TERMINALS, available from Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, Washington DC 20201

Rail Travel – Amtrak has a toll free number giving information on accessibility of trains and stations and assistance for handicapped passengers. Call 1-(800) 523-5720 and ask for the Special Movements Desk.
A brochure: ACCESS AMTRAK can be obtained from:
Amtrak Public Affairs,
955 L’Enfant Plaza Street, Washington DC 20024

Access Guide – The President’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped has compiled a helpful list: Write for:
Presidents Committee on Employment of the Handicapped,
111 20th Street NW,
Vanguard Building – Room 636,
Washington, DC 20210


AllMobilityScooters.Com is a resource dedicated to providing valuable information on mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs. AMS helps consumers learn more about what products are right for them and how to obtain the mobility products they need.

If it is necessary to move your telephone, two work days advance notice is needed. Get a cordless phone.

If you use a cane to improve your gait, make sure it is the right height.

A cane will help you walk the aisles of movies, theatres, etc. It would also help to carry a small flashlight.

When cooking use back burners for safety.

If you wear a belt, be aware that the leather piece stretches – have it checked.

If caught in a heavy rain storm, change shoes and socks as soon as possible. The water can cause damage.

Have an extra waist belt. Keep an overnight bag in car to carry extra belt, socks, etc. If you travel or go away, keep a folding shower bench in your car.

Carry a shoe horn when shopping in department stores. You will need it when trying on clothes, slacks, jeans, etc.

Get “Totes” with zippers to use in bad weather. Use plastic bag to put over shoe on prosthetic to help get totes on.

Plush carpeting, stairs and stairs without handrails may present a problem.

Try not to be without a phone. Take the telephone off the wall and keep it with you. It may be difficult for you to reach if you need it in a hurry.

DO NOT put yourself though “tests” to see what you can do physically until you are fully healed.

Change stump socks often. Wash them in the machine and dry them in the dryer. You will find they fluff up better.

Shoes should be leather, not plastic, and have an arch. Leather breathes. You may find rubber soles make the steps softer.

In snow use a lightweight plastic shovel instead of a cane for better balance.

If you haven’t spoken to someone that you miss – please call them. They might not know what to say to you. It will help a great deal.

Free pocket guide for FEDERAL HELP FOR THE DISABLED PERSON, can be obtained from the Office of Information and Resources for the Handicapped, HEW, Washington DC 20201.


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