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Benefits and Assistance

Crutches and Wheelchairs

It is helpful for leg amputees to possess a pair of crutches, even after an artificial limb has been fitted. You may have a day when the prosthesis is uncomfortable or it is being repaired, or you may find them handy to use after a bath and before bed.

The physiotherapist, who arranges for the crutches to be issued to you, will train you in the use of them and make sure that they are the correct length for you. There are two main types: the conventional long underarm type and the elbow crutch. Try both types, if possible, and decide for yourself which suits you best. The elbow type may be taken apart and packed easily in a suitcase, so they may be preferred by someone who travels a lot. However, where x-ray luggage inspection is conducted at international airports, metal crutches in a suitcase can cause some problems as they can be wrongly identified as firearms. It is recommended that crutches are best taken as a separate item of luggage to eliminate such a problem.

Wheelchairs – All lower limb amputees who are unable to wear a prosthesis are entitled to a wheelchair, as are those who wear a prosthesis but need a wheelchair for use within the home. Stump supports for wheelchairs are also available for those who need them. A specialised wheelchair assessor (usually a physiotherapist or occupational therapist who is specialised in wheelchair provision) will complete an assessment with you to find a wheelchair suitable to your needs.

You may need to have alterations made inside your home to cater for the wheelchair and steps into your home may need to be replaced with a ramp. You can apply for assistance for carrying out any such alterations to your home. If you feel that you need a wheelchair or alterations to your home environment, ask your Limb Centre, hospital or GP to refer you to the appropriate service. If your amputation was the result of an accident, ask your ACC Case Manager.

Health and Disability Support Services

Any person who has a physical, intellectual, sensory or neurological disability, or a combination of these resulting in a loss of function requiring ongoing support for longer than six months, is entitled to access Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) services. Needs Assessment is a service to identify peoples’ needs, including special equipment and necessary house alterations, and Service Coordination looks at the relevant services available and arranges appropriate support.

Services that may be assessed include home help, such as cleaning, washing and meal preparation. Another service known as ‘personal’ care (which includes assistance with showering, dressing and may include supervising the taking of medications) is not income tested. Carer support is also available. This gives the full-time unpaid carer of a person with a disability a break. To be eligible, the carer must be providing at least four hours or more of care a day. This is not income tested and is allocated in days available per year, based on need. To allow people to live in their homes, ‘supported living’ is an option. The support may be with meal preparation, shopping, budgeting management, attending appointments etc. For those people who can no longer be supported at home, ‘residential care’ may be an alternative. Prospects for this would be discussed with the individual and their family/whanau.

Anyone needing any of these services can make a referral to the assessment agency, either for themselves or on behalf of someone else. Most referrals go through either a GP or a hospital social worker.

Disability Related Information

The Weka website managed by Enable NZ provides useful information regarding specialist equipment and housing modifications. Those people who live in the Auckland and Northland region may also wish to check the Accessable website for local information.

Disability Allowance
The Disability Allowance is for people who have an ongoing disability that is likely to last at least six months and who need help with everyday tasks or ongoing medical care. If you are on a benefit (e.g. Invalid, Sickness, Domestic Purposes), you will usually qualify for a Disability Allowance. If you’re not on a benefit or are getting NZ Superannuation or the War Veteran’s Pension, you and your partner’s income must be under a certain limit. For more information, talk to your GP, phone Work and Income on 0800 559 009or visit

If your amputation was caused by an accident, ACC may compensate you for the income you have lost and meet a range of medical or rehabilitation costs. Your right to cover is usually established by the ACC following your first medical consultation. You may be entitled to up to 80% of the average weekly wage you earned before the accident to pay for medical and rehabilitation costs, household help or an independence allowance. You will be issued with a claim number which you must quote in all dealings with ACC. You must also provide your Artificial Limb Centre with your claim number

Your Rights
The Human Rights Act – If you’re treated unfairly because of your disability, this may be unlawful discrimination. The Human Rights Act can protect you from discrimination in these areas: Government or public sector activities; Employment; Business partnerships; Education; Public places, vehicles and facilities; Goods and services; Land, housing and accommodation; Industrial and professional associations, qualifying bodies and vocational training bodies. Disability includes physical, psychiatric, intellectual or psychological disability or illness. This includes mental health conditions. You can call the Human Rights Commission toll free on 0800 496 877 or visit their website at A Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights protects your rights to receive quality health and disability support services. A national, free advocacy service is also available to assist where people with disabilities believe their rights have been breached. Health and Disability Advocates can be contacted toll free on 0800 55 50 50 or website Artificial Limb Services – It is also important that you are aware that you have rights when visiting the Limb Centre. You can request an appointment with the surgeon at any time and you also have the right to request a private consultation with any person providing a service to you, e.g. the prosthetist or the surgeon.
Frequently Asked Questions

Why would leg amputees need crutches even after receiving an artificial limb?

Crutches serve as a helpful aid for leg amputees, providing support during times when the prosthetic limb is uncomfortable, undergoing repairs, or not suitable for immediate use, such as after bathing or before bedtime.

How are crutches issued, and what types are available?

A physiotherapist arranges for the issuance of crutches and ensures proper training and fitting. Two main types are available: conventional long underarm crutches and elbow crutches. Amputees can try both types to determine which suits them best.

What considerations should be made for traveling with crutches?

While elbow crutches may be preferable for travelers due to their ease of disassembly and packing, it's important to note that metal crutches in luggage can pose challenges during x-ray inspections at international airports. Separate luggage for crutches is recommended to avoid such issues.

Who is entitled to receive a wheelchair?

Lower limb amputees unable to wear a prosthesis, as well as those requiring a wheelchair for home use despite wearing a prosthesis, are entitled to receive a wheelchair. Stump supports for wheelchairs are also available for those who need them.

How is the selection of a wheelchair determined?

A specialized wheelchair assessor conducts an assessment to determine the wheelchair best suited to an individual's needs, ensuring appropriate support and mobility.

Are alterations to the home environment necessary for wheelchair users?

Depending on individual needs, alterations such as ramps may be required to accommodate wheelchair use within the home. Assistance for such alterations can be applied for through appropriate channels.

What services are available for individuals with disabilities requiring ongoing support?

Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) services identify needs and arrange appropriate support, including home help, personal care, carer support, supported living, and residential care.

How can individuals access disability-related information and support?

Websites like Weka and Accessable provide valuable information on specialist equipment, housing modifications, and local disability services. Regional information centers and advocacy services are also available resources.
Amputee Guide
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