“Amputation involves more than the loss of a limb,” says prosthetist Sheri Hatt. “It affects the person’s entire life.”

So when a client walks into Hatt’s clinic—Rogue Prosthetics in eastern Texas—she strives to treat the whole patient, not just the body part that’s attached to the prosthesis. Hatt employs a peer mentor named Rock (left above-knee amputee) to ensure every patient has a go-to connection in the limb-loss community. Rogue sponsors social outings and events, such as an annual skydiving shindig that offers free dives for amputees (and discounted rates for family and friends). The company emphasizes strong customer service, personalized care, and patient-centered values like honesty, empathy, reliability, and open communication.

Last year, Hatt found a way to help patients replicate her holistic approach in their own lives. Rogue teamed up with CareFlash, whose smartphone app lets any amputee organize their family and friends into an online caring community called a “Careopolis.” These private, invitation-only support networks bolster every aspect of an amputee’s life, making it easier to keep medical appointments, stay socially engaged, keep physically fit, and solve logistical problems related to housing, transportation, employment, and beyond. Careopolis includes a robust storytelling platform, enabling subscribers to document their limb-loss journeys, demystify the experience, and help restore a sense of normalcy. All at absolutely no cost.

“It’s one of the best things we’ve ever done for our clients,” says Hatt. “It improves their resilience and their success with a prosthesis. Our goal is to restore people’s lives, and this has been a really good tool in our toolkit. In today’s world, people encounter more and more challenges, while society offers fewer and fewer solutions.”

You can get a sense of how Careoplis works at Rogue Prosthetics’ website. You can even start your own Careopolis there, whether or not you’re a Rogue client. Hatt says about 100 families have signed up since the system went live 11 months ago. “We’ve had a good turnout, because people really find the value in it,” she says.

Careopolis makes so much sense that we figured there must be other phone-based apps that operate along similar lines. We found quite a few programs, but most of them don’t offer the same suite of functions as Careopolis, and/or are tailored for populations that don’t align neatly with amputees (such as seniors, people with chronic illnesses, etc.).

Here are the options that seem to best fit the needs of people living with limb loss. They’re all free to download and use, unless otherwise noted:

IANACARE (www.ianacare.com): The first four letters of the company’s name are an acroynm for “I Am Not Alone.” Founded in 2020, the app gained traction during COVID and hasn’t looked back. “We’re seeing a fundamental shift of hospitals pushing care into the home and work, becoming remote-first,” says company founder Jessica Kim. “Family caregivers are carrying the brunt of this impact.” Ianacare eases the burden with an intuitive interface, robust functionality, and sturdy underlying tech.

CIRCLE OF (https://circleof.com/): CircleOf was developed with support from Cisco’s innovation accelerator. Designed specifically as a smartphone app, it has a super-easy interface and a well-developed set of support tools, including a built-in video-call button if you have an urgent need. Because of its business-world roots, the program includes features designed to help you manage absences from work.

LOTSA HELPING HANDS (https://lotsahelpinghands.com): This app has been around longer than the smartphone itself; it launched all the way back in 2005 with a web-based interface. Lotsa boasts more than 100,000 users who seek to address all kinds of life-altering events, from limb loss to spinal injuries, cancer treatment, elder care, and beyond. The website includes nearly 200 blog entries with helpful hints about all things caregiving.

CARING BRIDGE (www.caringbridge.org): Caring Bridge has even deeper roots than Losta Helping Hands, with a launch date from the previous century (1997). The phone app debuted in 2018. Over the years, nearly 1 million people have used Caring Bridge to meet every type of caregiving situation you can think of. The company has spun off a book and video series, and it boasts more than 300,000 followers on social media.

AMPUTEE COALITION APP: We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the Amputee Coalition’s app. It’s not a perfect fit for this list, in that it doesn’t equip you to stitch family and friends into a personalized caregiving network. But since it is exclusively focused on limb-loss resources, we didn’t want to leave it off. You can use it to connect with a peer mentor, chat with an expert, request information about limb loss, and more. It’s a perfect complement to any of the options listed above. The AC app is available through the Apple App Store.

Amplitude
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