What are My Rights After an Amputation Injury?

Edited by Admin
What are My Rights After an Amputation Injury?

Traumatic Injuries: Amputation

Motor vehicle accidents, boating accidents, farm accidents, motorcycle accidents, work accidents, or combat wounds; all of these can result in traumatic injuries that lead to the amputation of a limb or limbs. Often these types of injuries affect young people; most amputations that occur due to traumatic injury happen to people aged 15 to 35. Depending on the limb, the reason for amputation and any complications that may occur, amputees can face a long hospital stay, and a variety of medical treatments. Once the wound has begun to heal, the patient is discharged and physical therapy begins. When the patient is ready, a prosthetic limb may be fitted, and the amputee can start learning how to use it. All of this takes time as well as mental and physical energy, and amputees will need various types of support during this process. While learning to live with an amputation can be difficult, it is also entirely possible, and most amputees are able to successfully adapt and resume their lives.


Immediately After a Traumatic Injury

A traumatic amputation can be life-changing, so medical personnel always try to save limbs when possible. Sometimes, however, the damage to bones, nerves, and blood vessels is just too extensive, and the decision is made to amputate. If amputation is necessary, your surgeon will attempt to save as much of your limb as possible, including joints. But if the damage is extensive the limb may not recover as desired, and additional surgery can be required later. Sometimes, in fact, multiple surgeries are planned from the outset, in order to maximize healing. So the initial hospital stay can be lengthy, depending on the particular circumstances of your case.


Following the surgery, you’ll have a dressing on the wound, which will help to control swelling. You’ll also be experiencing pain, and will be given medication to control it. After the first days your pain should lessen, but you may wish to consult with your doctor about various options for controlling any ongoing pain, or “phantom limb” sensations. Some alternative therapies such as meditation can also be useful in this regard.


Depending on your health, you will probably be visited by a physiotherapist during your hospital stay to help you with simple tasks. A physiotherapist can help you to learn how to safely transfer between your bed and a chair, for example, so that you can avoid falls. If you have a leg amputation, at some point, you may be able to begin using a walker or crutches to help you to get around the hospital. Once the incision has healed sufficiently, you will be released from the hospital, either to a rehabilitation facility or to your home.


Physical Therapy and Prosthetics

While simple physical therapy exercises usually begin in the hospital, most amputees will needs months or even years of work with a physiotherapist. After the swelling surrounding the incision has gone down, a prosthesis can be fitted. Your recovery team will consult with you about the type of prosthetic limb you need. (Many times amputees are fitted with a temporary limb while a custom prosthesis is being manufactured.) It can be difficult to get used to a prosthetic limb, and this process usually takes some time. Generally speaking, learning to use a prosthesis is easier for a below-the-joint amputee than for someone who has lost the knee or elbow joint. However, there have been amazing advances in prosthetics design; newer prosthetics are lightweight, flexible, and agile. Materials such as carbon-fibre composites, technology such as 3D scanning, and advances in bionics allow prosthetic designers to create remarkable limbs, suited for a wide variety of lifestyles. For example, with a bionic leg prosthesis, users can move effortlessly, including walking up and down stairs, walking backwards, and even taking part in high-level competitive sports. There are many different types of prosthetic devices, and you may choose to have more than one; there is very little amputees can’t do with the right equipment, from running to swimming, from skydiving to bicycling. 

As you recover, your physiotherapist will give you a set of exercises designed to help improve your muscle strength and your balance. Once you’re ready for a prosthesis, your physio will help you to get used to your prosthetic limb and to use it like a natural limb. Sometimes this is referred to as “prosthetic training.” Most young amputees get very good at incorporating their prosthesis into their daily lives.


If you or someone you loved has undergone an amputation following a traumatic injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Amputation of a limb is considered a catastrophic injury, the highest category. In Ontario, an initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer is free.


Contact a personal injury law firm today, and schedule a meeting – know your rights!