Author Topic: General question for Above Knee amputation  (Read 8233 times)

Offline Chamhaole

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General question for Above Knee amputation
« on: August 18, 2008, 01:50:06 PM »
Hello people,
I'm 31.  I was in a bad car accident a couple years ago and although I'm not an amputee, I recently had my knee fused.  It's helped me a lot.  I'm finally walking again which is great.  However, there are some things that I see amputees doing that I wish I could do (running, bending the leg, etc).  I'm just wondering how the knee works.  If you're out running with a prosthetic, is the leg in a fixed bent position, or does it swing forward when you kick it?  How does it "know" what position to be in?

I'm only asking because I'm going to give my fusion a year, but I'm considering amputation to get more mobile again, and I want to get as much research done in the meantime.

Thank you,
Nate

snowbear

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Re: General question for Above Knee amputation
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2008, 02:09:21 PM »
Hello Chamhaole, and welcome I'm a below the knee amputee but their are a  few above the knee like Peglegjack He is very knowledgeable and I'm sure you will get some answers..I just wanted to welcome you. Personally I would think long and hard before you choose amputation it is not easy. and takes a allot of time to accomplish things such as running..Best of luck to you.

Offline pegleg jack

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Re: General question for Above Knee amputation
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2008, 02:45:46 PM »
Chamhaole, this is PEGLEG JACK, all though i am a bilaterial bka(below the knee amputee) i am not really up on just how the knees work, hang in there and i know for a fact that you will get all the responses that you can handle

Even thought you are not an amputee, welcome to the forum,

One question, how much pain are you in with the fused knee?

SO COME ON ALL AKA, HELP THIS PERSON OUT.
you-all have a great day.

snowbear

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Re: General question for Above Knee amputation
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2008, 03:06:09 PM »
Just my 2 cants as a BLK..I had allot of pain before my amputation due to many operations and a fused ankle..And I continue th have allot of phantom pain. Because the more pain a amputee has before due to trauma the more phantom and real pain they have..

Also you may want to speak to licenced prothetist too to answer some of your questions..many regards.

Offline Myffanwy

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Re: General question for Above Knee amputation
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2008, 03:25:07 PM »
Hi and welcome, Chamhaole:  I've been an amputee for 51 years, as a result of a road accident when I was three, and amputation when I was nine.  As I was quite young, I don't remember all of the details, certainly not the accident, but I do remember wearing a godawful body brace for much of the time between 3 and 9, with a fused ankle and knee. So getting a "new" leg at 9 was a really positive thing for me, but probably was much easier to adjust to at that age than at 31, I would think.

I can imagine having a fused knee at your young adult age is very limiting, even though you're glad to be walking.  But I would check out every possible option, talk to as many specialists as you can, before going the amputation route. See if something can be done to get your knee back its function. I mean, amputation could be the answer for you, but once it's done, it's done, and some folks don't bounce back as well as others, some have residual pain, of varying degrees, that sometimes never goes away and they have to take strong meds to deal with it.  Prosthetists (leg makers) come in all levels and degrees of expertise, and sometimes it's hard to find one that you have a really good rapport with, so it may take you quite awhile, if ever, to get a leg that feels "just right". 

I don't mean to sound terribly discouraging, but it's a huge decision, don't make it without a lot of consideration and expert input and support. 

Having said all that, I do wish you the very, very best, and please feel welcome here and ask as many questions as you need to.   :)


snowbear

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Re: General question for Above Knee amputation
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2008, 03:37:22 PM »
Hi and welcome, Chamhaole:  I've been an amputee for 51 years, as a result of a road accident when I was three, and amputation when I was nine.  As I was quite young, I don't remember all of the details, certainly not the accident, but I do remember wearing a godawful body brace for much of the time between 3 and 9, with a fused ankle and knee. So getting a "new" leg at 9 was a really positive thing for me, but probably was much easier to adjust to at that age than at 31, I would think.

I can imagine having a fused knee at your young adult age is very limiting, even though you're glad to be walking.  But I would check out every possible option, talk to as many specialists as you can, before going the amputation route. See if something can be done to get your knee back its function. I mean, amputation could be the answer for you, but once it's done, it's done, and some folks don't bounce back as well as others, some have residual pain, of varying degrees, that sometimes never goes away and they have to take strong meds to deal with it.  Prosthetists (leg makers) come in all levels and degrees of expertise, and sometimes it's hard to find one that you have a really good rapport with, so it may take you quite awhile, if ever, to get a leg that feels "just right". 

I don't mean to sound terribly discouraging, but it's a huge decision, don't make it without a lot of consideration and expert input and support. 

Having said all that, I do wish you the very, very best, and please feel welcome here and ask as many questions as you need to.   :)



I totally agree here..Its  HUGE life changing experience. and not at all easy sometimes you may see a amputee on TV or in magazines or in the paper doing great things.. What they almost never show is all the blood, swear and tears it take to get their..Please think long and hard about this.

snowbear

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Re: General question for Above Knee amputation
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2008, 03:38:29 PM »
LOL I suppose people to swear!! However, I meant SWEAT!!!!!!!

Offline pyourke

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Re: General question for Above Knee amputation
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2008, 04:26:36 PM »
Hi Chamhaole, I'm a BAK (bilateral above knee amputee). I lost both my legs in an auto accident when I was 31. I'm 64, soon to be 65, now. I was hit by a truck when I stopped to help at an accident and lost one leg at the scene and the other after a week or so when they couldn't save it. Within six months of the accident I was back walking with canes. I was able to walk with one cane in the office or at home but needed two outside in case I encountered a curb or stair without a railing. It was tough work for the first few months. I was fitted for my temporary legs about 3 months after the accident and was back to work full time about three month afterwards. While I worked in an office environment, I travelled about 20% to 30% of my time across Canada and the US on both day trips and week long trips. When I hit my 50's I slowed down a little and started using a wheelchair for longer distances when I travelled, whereas previously I would walk all over when I travelled. Today in my mid 60's I walk around the house but use my wheelchair when I go out, other than quick trips into the bank or corner store.

While in my 30's I wasn't afraid to try anything, I was never able to run without knees and C Legs (computerized legs) weren't invented then. When you see amputees running on TV, they are usually below knee amputees. That's not to say that there aren't single above knew amputees that run, but I would think that they are fewer and far between. Running with a C Leg is not out of the question but they are very expensive and unless you have very good insurance the price could be prohibitive.

You asked how the leg knew how to move while an amputee was running or walking. There are various types of knees depending on the ability and strength of the amputee. The basic knee unit has a spring mechanism which simply causes it to swing forward when you kick your leg. The next level is hydraulic, or pneumatic, which is easier to use and generally recognizes the position of your step, i.e. toe or heel to tell the knee to swing forward or lock. Some hydraulic knees also have a swing phase built in them that senses how fast you are walking on your 'good' leg and various the speed of your prosthesis to match. There is also a stumble recovery built into some of the knees to cause them to stiffen if you stub your toes so that the knee doesn't collapse before your weight is over the knee to protect you from falling. The C Leg goes one step further and is programmed to swing automatically without you having to initiate the swing. They can also sense where the foot and knee are to the body to give the most natural gait when you walk and require the least work to use. There are also many types of feet, some which have enegy storing ability and even some with computerized sensors that can help you walk or run faster and easier. Obviously you pay for what level of device you select. Myfawnny suggested that you talk to a prosthetist before you make the decision. They can give you an idea of the costs and differences in types.

Fortunately for me, I didn't have to make the decision to have the amputations... there was no choice. I often thought that I was glad that they weren't able to save my second leg as I was able to be much more active than if I had a leg that I couldn't walk on. However if it was only stiff and didn't hurt, I would have likely tried to keep it. Some amputees are prone to a lot of pain, both real and phantom, as well as skin problems. It's a huge decision, but it sounds like you are going to make an intelligent decision by asking questions. By all means ask a local prosthetist to refer you to an active single above knee amputee that you can meet and ask questions. At the end, it's only you who can make the decision of what is best for you. You may decide that the inconveniences, and that's what they are, of being an amputee, are less than the inconveniences that you have today. But if you think that by having an amputation, that you'll be running in a few months, you may find that it takes much longer, is hard work and may never happen. Then again, you may find that as many single AKs here on the board that it is fairly easy. You only have to read some of the posts of the people here and on other amputee boards, who are able to run, fly planes, parachute, roller blade, climb mountains... they are likely the exceptions though. Most of us aren't that active but still lead happy, productive lives. You are young and no doubt strong and can likely overcome the challenges that you will face as an amputee, but I think that if you asked everyone here, if they had the choice between their own leg or a prosthesis, unless they were in terrible pain and couldn't use it, 99% of us would opt to keep our 'real' leg.

Good luck with whatever decision you make and know that there are a lot of us amps out here who will be available to help you answer your questions and give you tips on how to face the challenges of an amputee if you decide to go the amputation route.
Peter
BAK since '74

Offline Chamhaole

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Re: General question for Above Knee amputation
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2008, 01:25:24 AM »
I just want to thank all of you for your input regarding prosthetic legs.  Wow, you guys are fast with your replies.  Anyway, as stated, I'm not "planning" to amputate, but I am weighing all of my options.  Prior to the fusion, my doc and I did go over all other possibilities (partial knee, total knee, fusion, etc).  And he said that my knee and lower leg were too messed up for a knee replacement.  I got a second opinion and that doc said the same thing.

But now that I have the fusion, I do wonder about a prosthetic.  I realize that there's no "undoing" the surgery, so I appreciate all of your advice/information.  I'm going to give it a year (April '09) and see where I'm at.  Until then, I'm going to live life to the fullest.

Thanks again everybody,
Nathan

snowbear

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Re: General question for Above Knee amputation
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2008, 06:50:19 AM »
Best of luck..Again I would consider talking to a prosthetist too..But remember their is nothing like the real the thing!

I had not choice in my amputation it was my leg or my life..Its  no brainier there. Again good luck!

Offline pegleg jack

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Re: General question for Above Knee amputation
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2008, 08:42:42 AM »
Chamhaole, makes me feel good that we were able to answer you questions and  if you have any more feel free to come on here and ask away, if we dont have an answer, then someone can refer you to another link that can be of some help.

I am like Snowbear, i didnt have much choice in the matter when i lost my legs below the knee to blood clots, and gangarene,
you-all have a great day.

snowbear

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Re: General question for Above Knee amputation
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2008, 09:25:53 AM »
Yes PLJ we had no choice. For me amputation was suggested all my life..I fought to keep the crummy leg and in the end had no choice due to a massive bone infection from pins in my leg...go figure :o..BUT we are both alive and survivors!

Offline herb

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Re: General question for Above Knee amputation
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2008, 09:28:47 PM »
Hi Nate - I had an accident while riding a motorcycle where I was run over by a large truck and spent nearly a year in the hospital and lived  a fused ankle and fused knee for over 25 years before my above knee amputation eight years ago. I lived a pretty normal life but it was a pain not being able to bend my knee and I had constant pain. My prosthetic leg if much more flexible and never hurts. Although I am very active in my life and do hard physical labor daily, I would never engage in such activity as running unless I was being chased by a bear or by bees. ( both have occurred a few times and I was able to run away at a pretty good pace) I would not recommend amputation unless you need to. I had to have mine due to chronic infections and deterioration and pain but I got almost 30 pretty good years on my fused joints. Herb

Offline Mitchee

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Re: General question for Above Knee amputation
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2008, 02:18:58 AM »

Please give your fusion time and lots of thought before you consider amputation.  As you know, amputation is a permanent decision.

I am a below the knee amputee so I can not give you advice on what it is like to be an above the knee amputee.  I electively chose to amputate my lower leg.  I do not regret it.  First and foremost, amputation is not the right decision for everyone.  With that said... I do everything that I could prior to my amp.  I have even returned to rollerblading.  My point is that, if amputation is the right decision for you (and only you can decide), amputation may potentially allow you to enjoy everything that you used to do.  Be prepared, it may take months or even years to return to a lifestyle that you were accustomed to prior to your amputation.  Also be prepared for the possibility of not being able to do everything that you used to be able to do.  Only you can decide if amputation is appropriate.  Of course, myself and others don't want you to endure amputation if it is not necessary but we will be here to support you if amputation is an appropriate decision.


Best of luck.

Michelle
Initial injury:  July 1985
Amputation:  December 2006 - Ertl LBKA

"The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."
 -Lao Tzu

Offline Abel Cruz

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Re: General question for Above Knee amputation
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2008, 08:25:41 PM »