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Amputation

Four year old, toe amputation

05/21/2007

Question:

My four year old son was in an accident involving the mower, he had the third and forth toe amputated on his right foot. He has not seen his foot yet because we are waiting for the stitches to come out and the bruising to somewhat go away. I`m afraid for when he has to look at it for the first time. Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with this or what to say to him. We want to help him not be self concious. He does know that the toes are gone. Any bit of advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

Answer:

Unfortunately there is no "correct" way to tell a child about an amputation. A combination of honesty combined with compassion will likely work best in the long run. Telling him that the toes were lost in the accident and that his foot will work normally but look a little different is the best direct explanation. He should get over the initial shock quickly at his age. Kids this age often are less traumatized than their parents. I would recommend discussing the situation with your pediatrician for advice as well.

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Response by:

Joel  Mayerson, MD Joel Mayerson, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Orthopaedics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University