Nutritional Concerns for Wound Healing in Individuals with Limb Loss
For all individuals, nutrition directly impacts overall health, but for individuals with limb loss, solid nutritional intake is imperative for several reasons. First of all, individuals with recent amputations often have comorbidities, or multiple health concerns, to include diabetes, multiple traumatic zones of injury, cardiopulmonary deficits, and/or integumentary insults among others. All recent amputations will require increased protein intake to improve wound closure. The quicker the wound heals, the quicker a prosthetic limb can be fit, and the quicker an individual will able to ambulate. Oftentimes, it is beneficial for an individual with limb loss to understand that better nutritional intake will result in better ambulation abilities. Some foods have highly inflammatory properties and will slow wound healing. These include: sugar, sugar substitutes, refined flour, processed meats, dairy, and artificial additives. Avoiding these foods will improve the healing process and joint health in general. Increased protein intake will also improve wound healing. Post operatively, and concerning skin breakdown issues, individuals should focus on increasing protein intake and decreasing inflammatory foods. As physical therapists and prosthetists, it is imperative to discuss this with your patients in the limb loss community as it directly impacts functional progression and prosthetic fit.