A child with a congenital limb deficiency or a child with acquired limb loss poses unique parenting challenges, particularly in regards to prosthetic use. While you love and care for your child just as any other child, including the non child amputees that you may also have, it’s important to recognize those qualities that set each child apart in order to help him or her develop self-confidence for life.
- Each child adapts to prosthetic use at a different rate. For children with acquired limb loss, whether upper extremity amputations or lower extremity amputations, the adjustment period is variable. For a child who has undergone a traumatic amputation, recovery may be prolonged. Do not assume that your child will adjust to his or her prosthesis right away. Everyone’s experience depends on a host of factors such as location and extent of limb loss, type of prosthesis, doctors, support system, and individual capacity for healing.
- Your child may blame you. Because you’ve had to make many life-altering decisions about your child’s health, including activities, prosthetic use, surgery, rehabilitation, etc., he or she may harbor some anger towards the way that you’ve chosen to shepherd his or her life. Although this can be very hurtful, especially during the teen years when almost all children have conflicts with their parents, remember that these feelings are a normal part of coping with the absence of a limb. In most cases, your child will recognize that you love him or her and have tried to make educated, responsible judgments about his or her health.
- Maintain high standards for your child. As your child transitions into adolescence and early adulthood, he or she will benefit from challenging activities. Most parents understandably wish to protect their children from teasing and failure, but the majority of adults who began to use prostheses as children are glad that their parents asked them to do things that were difficult.
Above all, show and tell your child that you love him or her. Your attitude towards the prosthesis makes a big difference in how well your child adapts. One of the best things you can do for yourself is stay in contact with professional organizations that will provide you with support. The Children’s Electronic Hand Assistance Project provides information, programs, and services for parents of children who need prosthetic fitting and funding but have inadequate or no insurance. For more information about this organization, please call toll-free (866) 696-2767 or submit an electronic query at www.myoelectricprosthesis.com/contact.htm.