Integration of Pediatric Amputees and Their Parents with an Adult Amputee Support Group
The coordinator of our amputee clinic found it impossible to offer adequate support to pediatric amputees and their parents during clinic visits. A parents' group did not have enough members to sustain it, even though it included children with disabilities other than amputation. Among other problems, parents of amputees had much grief to work through regarding their imperfect children, and the children were often the only one with their particular disability in school or social situations. An amputee support group open to amputees of all ages and their families was formed.
Those invited to the first meeting were chosen carefully, in the hope that they would have the talent and interest to start an independent group. The atmosphere was informal and non-threatening, enabling children to play together and to observe adults with disabilities similar to theirs. Parents found it helpful to see adults who had come to terms with their amputations and were functioning well in the community. Teenagers could join an adult group, to the apparent benefit of both. Middle-aged and elderly adults enjoyed having children present. The support group continues successfully. Combining children and adults with amputations has increased attendance and seems mutually beneficial.
Kernan Hospital, 2200 North Forest Park Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21207