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You're Not Alone.

In 1969 I wrecked a motorcycle. My lower right leg was shattered and I awoke in a hospital not knowing if it had been removed. When my physician entered the room, he informed me that he had amputated my leg seven inches below the knee. When I asked for literature on amputations, he told me none was available. Astounded at his ignorance, I wrote a friend studying at Vanderbilt, asking him to obtain information from the medical library. Soon an envelope containing many articles arrived at my hospital bed. The job of educating myself had begun. Reading Sabolich's You're Not Alone is a continuation of the process.

John Sabolich, CPO, has written a long overdue book that amputees and anyone facing amputation, including family members, should read. Physicians responsible for amputating and people tracking post-op patients should also read You're Not Alone. Using a holistic approach, the responsible physician will rely not only on prosthetists but on physical and occupational therapists, nurses, family members, and others whose lives are involved in a patient's amputation. For the amputee, the book will provide insight into how others have coped with the ignorance and prejudice encountered by people who have lost limbs. They will also learn that amputees overcome great odds and skepticism to become whatever they wish. Physicians and nurses should read it so they can advise their patients that information is available to the layman, rather than misinforming them that "nothing is available."

Anyone with an interest in post-op patient care would also benefit, particularly nurses who work in post-op recovery or surgical wards. Physical and rehabilitative therapists would gain information about the nature of amputations when, along with the prosthetist, they consider a long-term treatment plan for their patients. For those facing amputation of a limb, Sabolich discusses different types of prosthesis. For people with a family member facing amputation, the suggestions will help as they try to understand what their loved ones are experiencing. For amputees, the stories by those who have undergone amputation, who turned stumbling blocks into stepping stones, will demonstrate the ability of the human spirit to overcome obstacles.

In his introduction, Sabolich discusses quadrilateral sockets, CAT-CAM, SFS, different types of amputations, why some are better for certain people, and what factors should be considered by both the physician and the prosthetist. But You're Not Alone is not a technical manual on amputation. And Sabolich wisely cautions the reader not to rely on a technical fix to substitute for attitude and the patient's own ability to emotionally overcome the loss of a limb.

The remainder of the book contains stories from 38 different amputees. The thread that runs through each story is similar: their willingness to face their difficulty and do what is necessary to lead full, productive lives. A person who overcomes an amputation usually has a strong support group to depend on, to encourage them, to laugh and cry with, and to help them through a period of adjustment.

Especially compelling is the story of Peter Thomas. After losing both legs below the knee at ten years old, he finished high school and graduated cum laude from Boston College. He entered law school at Georgetown University, eventually becoming a lobbyist for the American State of the Art Prosthetic Association. Thomas's advice to amputees is worth repeating: "I became involved because I felt many amputees are not satisfied with their artificial limbs and I was in a position to help. The support of all amputees and consumers of orthotic and prosthetic devices is needed to assure continued progress. The worst thing you can do is sit on the sidelines and let someone else have all the fun." Regarding the differences that exist between various prosthetists, Thomas remarks, "A new amputee needs to understand there are choices. Ask questions. Talk to more than one prosthetist and even other amputees. Tell the prosthetist about your goals and activities, and place the burden on him to come up with a device that meets your needs. If he can't or won't, the answer is simple; go to someone who will."

I would add that this advice also applies to many physicians, whose education in the field of prosthetics is often limited. False pride can prevent them from working with the prosthetist, whose education, training, and experience in the field of prosthetics exceed their own. Having asked a number of physicians about a Flex Foot versus a Safe-Foot, or a hard versus a soft socket, I can attest to their lack of curiosity about the rather mundane, mechanical details of prosthetics. Yet they will often recommend what type of prosthetic device you should use for the life you wish to lead. In 24 years, I have had one orthopedic surgeon admit that he knew nothing about prosthetics. Fortunately he had the insight to advise me to discuss my needs with a prosthetist.

You're Not Alone should be on every amputee's bookshelf, as well as in the libraries of surgeons who perform amputations. The insight provided by these courageous people should be available to every prosthetist and medical professional who works with amputees. Highly recommended reading, the book contains 350 pages and costs $7.95. The Library of Congress Catalog is #91-62609 (1991) and available from the publisher, Sabolich Prosthetic and Research Center, 1017 NW 10, Oklahoma City, OK 73106. The toll-free phone is 1-800-522-4428.
COPYRIGHT 1992 National Rehabilitation Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Learning Disabilities
Author:Renardson, Wayne
Publication:The Journal of Rehabilitation
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 1992
Words:894
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