Newton, MA, March 15, 2012 – One out of 200 people living in the U.S. has had an amputation.

The number of amputations caused by vascular disease (primarily diabetes) is on the rise, as is the number of soldiers who have returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan without all their limbs.  Services to help amputees adjust to life with a prosthesis have not kept pace with the growing demand.  This disparity inspired Maureen Dauphinais, a senior rehabilitative therapist with Medical Resources Home Health (MRHH) based in Newton, MA, to create a program to help amputees adjust to life without a limb.  This makes MRHH one of the only homecare agencies in Massachusetts to offer specialized services for amputees.  Maureen is uniquely qualified for this assignment as she has been an occupational therapist for 21 years, and has lived with a prosthetic leg for 14 years.

“I know what it feels like to be discharged from the hospital with very little training in practical living with a new prosthesis:  It’s absolutely terrifying,” explained Maureen.  “No one prepares you with real-world advice about taking care of your child, getting to the bathroom in the middle of the night, or even getting your shoes on and off, with a prosthesis.  Our pilot program at Medical Resources Home Health is all about bridging the divide between leaving the rehabilitation hospital and getting acclimated at home.”

The program has been a labor of love for Maureen because of her own experience in learning to live without the lower half of her left leg which she lost after a long battle to heal a bone infection.  Maureen went home with her prosthetic leg to care for two small children.  The whole experience was overwhelming.  Maureen’s goal is to empower patients and fill them with hope and ideas for living.

Training caregivers and therapists to understand how life looks and feels to an amputee is the core of the program.  That gives them an opportunity to provide care that is practical, comprehensive and compassionate.

Maureen began developing the program to fill the void in transitional care for amputees.  Over the past three months, Medical Resources Home Health has run special training programs for its therapists to enable them to meet the needs of clients who have suffered limb loss.  That training included addressing the practical issues of living without a limb, understanding what it feels like to have a prosthesis so therapists can guide patients to optimum use.  There is also a huge emotional element that must be addressed as patients learn to adjust to life after losing a limb.  Training went beyond classroom learning and role playing to include sessions with amputees to get their first-hand insight into what is needed to really make a difference for this growing population.  Maureen and her team at MRHH have shared the program concept with area hospitals, physician groups, and rehabilitation centers, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Having experienced this myself, I truly understand how it feels to adjust to life with a prosthesis and I know how to help therapists directly address the needs and concerns people have as they get used to living without a limb,” explained Maureen.  “I am so happy to be able to work with my team at MRHHC to help these patients establish the ‘new normal’ and live full, rich, happy lives.”