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Rehabilitation of the amputee: Role of the clinical psychologist

26 July 2002


This thesis reviews the role of the clinical psychologist in the rehabilitation of the amputee. It discusses the main medical causes of amputation and presents a demographic and epidemiological information regarding amputees in the United States. The psychological consequences of amputation are then reviewed, which include adjustment disorder, body image distortion, anxiety, grief, social isolation, and depression. The psychologist's role in the prevention and treatment of these symptoms is discussed. Many medical practitioners do not consider the possibility of psychological impediments to the rehabilitation process, and therefore do not engage in thorough screening, which may detect the presence of a psychological disorder. Psychological assessment of the amputee is discussed in addition to some general guidelines for areas that psychologists might cover in such an assessment. Factors which the literature suggests may mediate the response to amputation are reviewed, including the degree to which a patient's body image is affected by their amputation and the degree to which important roles are disrupted by it. Both cognitive behavioral and Gestalt therapy are examined as effective modalities in working with amputees.


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