Amputations can occur due to trauma, cancer, and loss of blood supply to a limb (dysvascular amputation). Rates for all but dysvascular amputation have decreased in recent years due to improvements in cancer treatment and accident prevention. Dysvascular amputations occur as a result of damage to blood vessels caused by various conditions such as diabetes and vascular insufficiencies.
Traumatic amputation is the accidental loss of a body part as a result of some form of trauma. Industrial accidents, farm accidents, motor vehicle accidents, and accidents involving the use of power tools are common causes of traumatic amputation. Lower limb amputations account for approximately 92 percent of traumatic amputations, while 6.4 percent of amputations caused by trauma involve the loss of an arm, either above or below the elbow. The peak age for limb loss is between 41 to 70 years of age. Males are at higher risk for traumatic limb loss than females.
Traumatic amputations may involve the partial or total loss of the limb. When limbs are partially severed, surgeons will determine how much of the damaged limb can be salvaged. This will help determine how much function will be preserved as well as the type of prosthetic device the victim will be able to use in the future.
Traumatic amputation requires a huge adjustment for the victim as they learn to live without a vital part of themselves. In addition to the physical pain suffered, victims of traumatic amputation must relearn how to function without the missing limb. This will require extensive physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Activities that were once taken for granted will now become herculean tasks. Depression following traumatic amputation is not uncommon and should be addressed early in recovery.
Survivors of traumatic amputation will often need to retrain for a new occupation, especially for those whose occupation involved the direct use of the lost limb. Occupational therapy can help survivors regain the skills needed to function in their chosen occupation. The use of prosthetic devices can greatly aid survivors.
The psychological cost of traumatic amputation can be high. Many survivors find it difficult to adjust to the loss of a limb, not only physically, but emotionally and socially. Self-esteem is greatly affected by limb loss. As mentioned, many survivors experience depression following traumatic amputation. It can be emotionally challenging to learn how to perform activities of daily living, causing frustration and grief over a life that is forever changed.
Financially, a traumatic amputation can result in the accumulation of a large debt load. The cost of hospitalization, rehabilitation, occupational therapy, medication, and medical equipment such as prosthetic devices can be overwhelming. In addition to the aforementioned physical and psychological impact, the traumatic amputation survivor must also contend with medical costs that may continue for months after the initial injury has occurred.
For amputation survivors who were injured due to faulty equipment or negligence on the behalf of another person, seeking legal assistance may be invaluable. A legal advisor may also be able to assist the amputation survivor with managing their financial concerns and providing advice regarding workers’ compensation or other avenues of recompense. It is important to seek legal advice early on so that financial concerns can be addressed and dealt with.
October 13, 2015