HEALTH / WELL-BEING

A national study of Veterans with major upper limb amputation: Survey methods, participants, and summary findings

Article

This paper presents methods and summary findings from a national survey of Veterans with upper limb amputation.

Abstract

Introduction A comprehensive study to assess quality and outcomes of care for Veterans with upper limb amputation is needed. This paper presents methods and summary findings from a national survey of Veterans with upper limb amputation. Methods After completion of a pilot study to develop and refine methods, computer-assisted telephone interviews were conducted with 808 Veterans with upper limb amputation (response rate = 47.7%; cooperation rate = 63.3%). Results Respondents were 776 unilateral and 32 bilateral amputees, 97.5% male, mean age 63.3 (sd 14.1). Prostheses were used by 60% unilateral and 91% bilateral, the majority used body powered devices. Prostheses were used ≥8 hours/day by 52% unilateral and 76% bilateral. Prosthetic training was received by 71% unilateral and 59% bilateral. Mean prosthetic satisfaction was 3.9 (sd 0.6) and 3.8 (sd 0.7) as measured by TAPES; and 25.0 (sd 5.1) and 25.7 (sd 4.5) as measured by OPUS CSD for unilateral and bilateral respectively. Mean perceived disability (measured by QuickDASH) scores were 49.5 (sd 20.7) for unilateral and 34.7 (sd 22.0) for bilateral. VR-12 PCS scores were below population norms. The majority reported contralateral limb pain, musculoskeletal conditions, back and neck pain. Phantom limb pain was reported in 83.4% of unilateral and 68.8% of bilateral, and residual limb pain in 65.1% of unilateral and 68.8% of bilateral. Most, (81.8% unilateral, 84.4% bilateral) had been to a Veterans Affairs medical center (VA) for amputation care, while 57% of unilateral and 81.3% of bilateral had been to a VA amputation clinic. Discussion/Conclusion Veterans with upper limb amputation have moderately impaired physical functioning. Prosthesis use rates were lower than previously reported. Although satisfied with their prostheses, nearly half used them ≤8 hours/day. Rates of musculoskeletal problems, phantom and residual limb pain were higher than previously reported. A substantial proportion never received prosthetic training, or VA amputation care.

Full Reference

Resnik, L., Ekerholm, S., Borgia, M. and Clark, M. A., 2019. A national study of Veterans with major upper limb amputation: Survey methods, participants, and summary findings. PLOS ONE. doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0213578.