As with a Spinal Cord Injury, a person who has sustained an amputation injury will most likely have physical impairment(s). Of course, the physical limitations you experience vary depending on the location of the amputation(s), level of physical fitness, and the use of a prosthesis.
Return to Work
When evaluating return to work options, each individual should consider his/her capabilities and skills. The location of your injury—lower extremity or upper extremity—and whether your work was manual or sedentary will factor into your return.
As in Spinal Cord Injury, completion of physical and/or occupational therapy will probably be recommended before you attempt a return to work. You must be as physically fit as needed to accomplish your daily work activities.
Working with a career counselor who is skilled in disabilities will help you. It may be possible to address your limitations by making simple accommodations to your pre-injury worksite. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), your employer must make reasonable accommodation to assist you in performing the essential functions of your job.
Lower Extremity Amputations
If you have lower extremity amputation, you might rely on assistive devices for ambulation, such as a walker or a wheelchair. When amputations require a wheelchair, accessibility to buildings may be a barrier to return to work.
In accordance with ADA, most buildings are required to be wheelchair accessible. However, if the building you previously worked in is not wheelchair accessible, talk to your supervisor about relocating your workspace to an accessible area.
Upper Extremity Amputations
If you have upper extremity amputation, your ability to grasp, lift, carry, or manipulate objects may be limited. An upper extremity amputation may impair your speed in accomplishing day to day job duties using your hands.
If the amputation occurred to your dominant hand or arm, hand dominance training (training to teach you to use your non-dominant hand) might be necessary before returning to work.
Returning to Manual Work
If you performed manual work pre-injury, continuing in that position may not be possible. If you have a prosthesis, you have probably been advised to avoid getting it dirty, and many manual jobs do just that.
If it is possible to move into a sedentary position in your pre-injury company, that may be a good solution. It gives you continued employment, and your employer retains the skills and knowledge you have acquired as a laborer.
Returning to Sedentary Work
If you performed sedentary (i.e., clerical, administrative) work prior to the injury, you can seek the assistance of reacher tools or other adaptive equipment to accomplish your job duties. It may also be possible to rearrange your workstation, placing frequently used items within your reach.
Your familiarity with your workstation and your own work style make you the best person to recommend ways to accomplish your job duties.