Having a child in hospital with meningitis, a life threatening illness is a frightening time for the whole family. From not knowing what the future holds, to finding out they will require amputations, the subsequent months can be an emotional rollercoaster. Support at times like this is vital. Charities like Meningitis Now and the Meningitis Research Foundation offer a great deal of information and support for families going through this disease.
Why might amputation be necessary after meningococcal septicaemia?
Amputation may be necessary in severe cases of meningococcal septicaemia. Septicaemia is blood poisoning caused by bacteria multiplying in the blood. The body tries to fight the bacteria and the toxins released by it. The toxins attack the lining of blood vessels which can leak causing a rash, shown as purple areas of skin. Blood clots also form making it difficult for blood to carry oxygen to the body. When skin loses blood supply, it is starved of oxygen and it might blacken and eventually die. This predominantly affects the fingers, hands, toes and feet requiring amputation otherwise the dead tissue can become harmful to the body.
What treatment will my child get?
The priority in treating children with septicaemia is antibiotics. Time is of the essence. The longer the child is without antibiotics, the more the blood poisoning can spread resulting in further damage to the body. Once your child is medically stable, part of the treatment might be an attempt to treat the damaged tissue for it to heal. Areas of dead tissue might be cut away (debridement) or amputation might be required.
Medical treatment is not always provided in a timely manner. If a meningitis diagnosis is missed or treatment is delayed, the avoidable consequences can be catastrophic. As meningitis claims specialists we investigate concerns about meningitis medical care and whether injuries such as amputation could have been avoided.
If you would like to discuss any concerns about the medical care you or a loved one have received relating to meningitis, contact our specialist meningitis claims team for free and confidential advice on 0800 307 7620 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What happens after the amputation?
During the hospital stay, rehabilitation will be key to help mobilisation and independence. There will be a range of medical professionals looking after your child, which might include:
- Plastic surgeon
- Orthopaedic surgeon
- Occupational Therapist
- Pain specialist
Many of these professionals will continue to be involved in caring for your child after discharge from hospital.
Will my child be given prosthetic limb/s?
Many amputees use prosthetic limbs to help with daily living and mobility. Your child will be assessed to see if prosthetic limbs are suitable. This will depend on the amputation level, the recovery and whether there are any other amputations or disabilities. It will also depend on any skin scarring from the septicaemia.
Prosthetic limbs can help amputees rebuild their lives and get back to day to day activities. It takes time however for any amputee to learn to use their new limbs and there will need to be follow up assessments with the prosthetist. Prosthetic limbs will need to be replaced as your child grows.
When will my child be able to return to school?
It is important for children to return to school as soon as they are well enough and if it is safe for them to do so. The school will need to take into account your child’s amputation and accessibility needs. The school might need to help with arranging a learning support assistance, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, getting from class to class or taking notes if the child is not able to hold a pen.