What Is Multiple Extremity Amputation?

man with prosthetic leg and doctor

Multiple extremity amputation, also known as multiple limb amputation, is when two or more limbs are amputated, including due to congenital factors. Multiple extremity amputation includes the common terminology of double amputation, triple amputation, or quadruple amputation based on the number of extremities affected. Along with amputations resulting from trauma, many individuals with multiple amputations have endured them as a result of dysvascular disease. Over recent years, amputations as a result of dysvascular disease have risen to comprise more than 80% of new amputations occurring in the United States every year. Currently, there are approximately 1.6 million individuals in the United States with multiple extremity amputations.

What are the leading causes?

Multiple extremity amputation refers to the loss of two or more limbs, such as arms or legs. The leading causes of multiple extremity amputation can vary depending on various factors such as geographic location, demographics, and specific circumstances. However, some common causes include:

  • Traumatic injuries: Severe accidents and traumatic events, such as car crashes, industrial accidents, and combat injuries, can result in the loss of multiple limbs.
  • Vascular disease: Conditions affecting the blood vessels, such as peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and severe atherosclerosis, can cause inadequate blood supply to the extremities. If left untreated, it can lead to tissue damage and the need for amputation.
  • Cancer: Advanced-stage cancer, especially bone cancer or sarcomas, may require the amputation of multiple extremities as a life-saving measure to prevent the spread of cancer cells.
  • Infection: In some cases, severe infections, such as necrotizing fasciitis or gangrene, can lead to extensive tissue damage. When these infections are unresponsive to treatment or pose a significant threat to life, amputation may be necessary.
  • Congenital conditions: Certain congenital conditions, such as severe limb deformities or skeletal dysplasias, may necessitate the surgical removal of multiple extremities for medical and functional reasons.
  • Peripheral neuropathy: Progressive conditions like peripheral neuropathy, often associated with diabetes, can lead to tissue damage, infections, and ulcers. If these complications become severe and uncontrollable, amputation may be considered.

It’s important to note that the causes mentioned above are not exhaustive, and individual cases may have unique circumstances. Proper medical evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment are crucial to addressing the underlying causes and providing appropriate care for individuals who have experienced multiple extremity amputations.

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Treatment and prognosis of multiple extremity amputation

Those with multiple extremity amputations face many rehabilitation challenges, each resulting from the unique circumstances of that particular individual. Careful considerations are required to optimise the initial medical and surgical management, minimise behavioural health issues and achieve proper pain control, all of which are necessary to maximise the chance of success of the rehabilitation process.

Close multidisciplinary collaboration between the surgical team, medical team, physiatrists, pain team, physical and occupational therapists, recreational and sports therapists, and prosthetists is essential to the success of the complex rehabilitation process. Social and family support is essential and can be maximised through both traditional and non-traditional channels, such as support groups and peer visits. Most importantly, patient involvement from the very beginning of this process is necessary to identify realistic long-term goals for the patient, which are the guiding posts for the rehabilitation process.

Mobility for those with multiple extremity amputation

Many with multiple extremity amputations require the use of a power wheelchair. Powerchairs incorporate power-adjustable seating for user repositioning and comfort; speciality drive controls, including such options as using one’s head to operate the powerchair; and a highly adaptable design to meet an individual’s needs.

Powerchairs feature the latest advanced technologies to increase the independence of those living with multiple extremity amputations. iLevel seat elevation technology allows a user to operate the powerchair at a seated or standing height. Bluetooth is also integrated into Quantum’s Q-Logic 3 electronics, so those with multiple extremity amputations can operate much of their environment with the powerchair drive control. Powerchairs are designed to provide optimal medical comfort and maximum independence for those with multiple extremity amputations.

ICON Rehab Powerchair

ICON Rehab Powerchair UK

Quantum Q6 Edge 2 Powerchair

Quantum Q6 Edge 2 Powerchair profile

Solution

The Quantum Edge 3 with industry-first 4.5 mph at iLevel offers the most advanced power chair experience ever. Q6 powerchair series, which includes the Edge 3 and Q6 Edge 2 powerchairs, provide highly adjustable mid-wheel drive power bases. The Q6 Edge 2 all accept our optional iLevel technology, which offers up to 12 inches of lift at 4.5 mph. The 4Front is a quiet, more responsive front-wheel drive power chair that features automotive-grade suspension with unprecedented comfort and ride quality.

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