Occupational Therapy Practice Patterns for Military Service Members with Upper Limb Amputation

Jill M. Cancio, Annemarie Orr, Susan Eskridge, Kaeley Shannon, Brittney Mazzone, Shawn Farrokhi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Military Service Members (SMs) with upper limb (UL) amputation have unrestricted access to occupational therapy (OT) services. Identifying OT interventions used based on clinical rationale and patient needs can provide insight toward developing best practice guidelines. The purpose of this retrospective observational study was to identify preferred OT practice patterns for U.S. Military SMs treated in Military Treatment Facilities, who have sustained various levels of deployment-related UL amputation. Methods: The study sample was ascertained from the Expeditionary Medical Encounter Database housed at the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, California. SMs with an immediate (within 24 hours of injury) deployment-related unilateral major UL amputation (partial hand and proximal), occurring between January 2001 and December 2014 were identified. SMs with concurrent major lower limb amputation (partial foot and proximal) were excluded. Frequency of OT outpatient visits and units of treatment received were quantified in 3-month increments during the first year after amputation and compared for individuals with above elbow (at or proximal to elbow joint) and below elbow (distal to the elbow joint including partial hand) amputation. This study was approved by the Naval Health Research Center Institutional Review Board. Results: A total of 29,878 encounters occurred during first year after amputation in 148 patients, who had sustained UL loss during the first year after amputation. Active treatments were included in 79.2% of all treatments, followed by manual therapy (13.7%) and modalities (13.5%). A higher number of OT encounters occurred in the above elbow amputation group - the first year of treatment with significantly higher mean number of treatments months 4 to12. A similar pattern in OT encounters was observed in the active therapy category with significantly higher mean number of treatments occurring in above elbow limb loss group in months 10 to 12. Conclusion: Findings of the current study suggest SMs with UL amputation utilize OT services often within the first year after injury and those who have sustained amputation proximal to the elbow received more therapy visits than their below elbow counterparts during months 4 to 12. Prosthetic training, therapeutic activities, and therapeutic exercise can be expected to be the highest used active interventions in the first year following UL amputation. Further research is needed to determine details on types and frequency of therapy utilization and recommended therapy strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-450
Number of pages7
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


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