Life After a Traumatic Amputation

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Life After a Traumatic Amputation

Traumatic Amputation


There are two basic types of amputation: surgical amputation and traumatic amputation. Surgical amputation is the name given to instances where a medical team makes the decision to remove a limb or other body part due to lack of blood flow and the resulting tissue death. This may happen due to a disease such as diabetes that impedes circulation or may follow damage to a body part after an accident. A traumatic amputation is one that is caused by an accident. There are numerous causes of traumatic amputation, including factory and warehouse accidents, agricultural accidents, construction accidents, military combat, machinery accidents, accidents involving explosives, electrocution accidents, and more. However, the leading cause of traumatic amputation is the motor vehicle accident. In most cases, following a traumatic amputation, surgeons will attempt to reattach the limb. However, sometimes a severed limb cannot be successfully reattached; if the limb has been crushed or pinned during the accident, for example, it may be too badly damaged to be saved. Other times a lacerated limb develops an infection that cannot be stopped, and that, too, can result in amputation. Surgeons will always attempt to save as much of the limb as possible in order to facilitate the use of prosthetics. Amputation is often necessary to save the patient’s life.


Living with Amputation


Losing a limb is considered to be a catastrophic, or life-altering injury. Learning to live with amputation can be challenging both physically and emotionally, and there is bound to be a period of adjustment. An amputation may affect your career: For a carpenter, a hair stylist, or a craftsperson, for example, the loss of an arm can present serious practical difficulties; the loss of a leg can adversely affect the duties of a park ranger, a mail carrier, or a firefighter. An amputation may affect the way that other people see you, even your own friends and family members. The loss of a limb may also affect the way that you see yourself, and how you interact with the world. Amputation may even affect your favourite leisure activities. However, there are many resources available to amputees, and many ways to cope with the “new normal” faced by those who have lost a limb. Amputees work a wide variety of jobs, drive cars, travel, have fulfilling family lives, and participate fully in their communities.

As you recover, you will begin to assemble a support team. Your medical professionals, such as your surgeon, your prosthetist, your GP, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, and counsellor will be invaluable in on your road to recovery and adjustment. If your amputation occurred in a motor vehicle accident, or due to the negligence of another person, organization, or corporation, your team should also include a good personal injury lawyer. And of course, family and close friends will be crucial.

After amputation, you must heal for a short period of time before a prosthetic limb can be fitted. This is a good time to learn more about your amputation and to find out about organizations and support groups for amputees. The help of a good counsellor at this point can help you to move forward while acknowledging that life has changed. Physiotherapy will usually begin after you are discharged from hospital. You will begin to learn how to use your prosthetic limb and start practicing with it. The process varies greatly from person to person; generally speaking, it is easier for younger people to adapt to a prosthetic, but it really depends on the severity of the individual’s injury and their attitude toward rehabilitation.

As you learn more about life as an amputee, you may be amazed at the types of prosthetics that are available. Prosthetic legs, for example, are available for all types of activities, from cycling to curling, from rock climbing to skiing. Prosthetic arms can help you to fly an airplane, bowl, play golf, or play a musical instrument, among many other activities. Your medical team can help you to find ways to enjoy many of the activities you love.

With any injury, there is a possibility of accompanying depression, and that is particularly true of a catastrophic injury. Remember that it may take some time for you to find your way after suffering a serious injury, and be sure to ask for help when you need it.


Legal Advice


As soon as you are able to, talk to a personal injury lawyer about obtaining compensation for your injury. You will need time to recover and may not be able to return to work for some time; you may even need to retrain for another career. Getting compensation can ease the financial pressures that often follow serious injuries. In Ontario, the initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer is free; you can ask questions about your case and learn more about your options.