Beyond function: Using assistive technologies following lower limb loss
Simon Dunne, Laura Coffey, Pamela Gallagher, Deirdre Desmond, Nicola Ryall
School of Nursing and Human Sciences, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland.
Objective: To explore how individuals experience and perceive the use of assistive technologies following lower limb loss.
Design: Cross-sectional qualitative interview design.
Patients: Thirty individuals with lower limb amputation were recruited from a multi-disciplinary rehabilitation programme (26 males and 4 females); comprising individuals with above-knee (n = 16), below-knee (n = 12) and bilateral (n = 2) amputations. Patients were at least 15 months post-rehabilitation, at least 18 years old and spoke English.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted via telephone or in person. Interview data were inductively thematically analysed by a researcher who had no previous contact with participants.
Results: Three key themes were identified: “It didn’t feel part of me” – Heightened awareness and experiences of distance from prostheses following lower limb loss; “Depending on others is really tough” – Independence through assistive technologies; and “I feel confident with this leg” – The value of prosthesis use following amputation.
Conclusion: The findings demonstrate that individuals with lower limb loss perceive and experience assistive technologies to have uses in ways beyond their potential for functional restoration. They may also attribute meanings and values relating to such technologies that may influence their use. Ascertaining and being aware of individuals’ experien-ces and perceptions of assistive technologies is important for lower limb loss rehabilitation.
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