Thirteen studies (15 papers) were included in the review. Sample size ranged from five to 42. All included studies met the first two criteria from the CASP checklist (noted above). Overall, quality scores ranged from 15 to 23 out of a possible 24.
Five concepts were identified in relation to the experience of amputation and prosthesis use in adults:
Becoming an amputee and facing prosthesis use (10 papers)
Early experience of losing a limb included sadness, shock, anger and feelings of lost independence. Some participants expressed disappointment at seeing their prosthesis for the first time, resulting in emotional ambivalence and a lack of preparedness for new capabilities. There were feelings of insecurity about the transition from hospital to home. Despite some negative experiences, other participants felt keen to regain self-confidence and find ways to cope.
Adjustment to and coping with amputation and prosthesis use (six papers)
Some participants likened amputation to bereavement. The use of social comparison (considering someone with greater problems to derive comfort for themselves) was a frequent method of coping. Conversations with others who had lost a limb were a source of optimism for some participants.
The role of valued relationships in recovery (nine papers)
The supportive role of family and friends, and the psychological importance of being accepted, were key drivers in improving self-worth and normalcy.
Amputation and prosthesis use in social interaction (six papers)
Prosthesis use allowed participation in regular social activities. By concealing limb loss, participants also noted the integral role that prostheses and clothing choices played in shaping positive reactions of others. At the same time, concealment was seen by some as deceptive activity.
Prosthetically enabled identities (nine papers)
Prosthetic limb use was felt to be important in regaining a valued identity, and this was something that developed over time.