Original Research

Participation restrictions and vocational rehabilitation needs experienced by persons with a unilateral lower limb amputation in the Western Cape, South Africa

Tak Wing Yu, Liezel Ennion
African Journal of Disability | Vol 8 | a456 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v8i0.456 | © 2019 Tak Wing Yu, Liezel Ennion | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 November 2017 | Published: 10 June 2019

About the author(s)

Tak Wing Yu, Department of Physiotherapy, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Liezel Ennion, Department of Physiotherapy, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa

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Background: Vocational rehabilitation (VR) aims to rehabilitate a person with an amputation back into actively participating in society. Even though lower limb amputation (LLA) surgery is commonly performed in South Africa (SA), little research has been published on the participation restrictions experienced by and vocational needs of persons with LLA in the Western Cape (WC).

Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine and explore the participation restrictions and VR needs of persons with a unilateral LLA in the WC.

Method: A mixed-methods approach and a sequential exploratory design were utilised to collect data from 50 persons with an LLA. Participants were conveniently sampled within the Cape Metropole region of the WC, SA. The World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0 (WHODAS 2.0) tool was used to collect the quantitative data, and telephonic interviews were conducted for qualitative data collection.

Results: A third (28%) of participants in this study were unemployed, and only 14% (n = 7) of the participants owned or used a prosthesis. In addition, 50% of the participants either had a disability grant or were on pension. The participation restrictions identified were mainly related to mobility where 74% (n = 37) of participants had extreme difficulty with mobility in general, 92% (n = 46) struggled with walking distances longer than 1 km and 80% (n = 40) had extreme difficulty in completing household tasks quickly. The main VR needs identified in this study were the inadequate rehabilitation services that target ambulation (standing and walking) to facilitate employment.

Conclusion: Persons with a unilateral LLA still experience significant difficulties in mobility 3 months post-amputation, which negatively affects their participation in society and vocational activities.


physical therapist; lower limb amputations; participation restriction; rehabilitation, vocational rehabilitation needs


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