Losing a limb whether in a preventable industrial accident, negligent construction accident or horrific motor vehicle crash will provide lifelong challenges.
You may have to learn how to walk with a prosthetic leg, and learn how to eat and dress with only one arm or a prosthetic arm. And the pain may linger for a long time, even pain from a phantom limb.
More than half of such injuries below the knee
Most U.S. hospitals treat patients with traumatic limb amputations due to motor vehicle accidents (42%), industrial incidents (26%) and motorcycle crashes (21%).
According to a Rutgers University study, the sites of the amputations were below the knee (53%), below the elbow (19%), above the knee (17%) and above the elbow (11%).
Trauma is the second-leading cause
Your injury may have been caused by an incompetent employer who failed to provide adequate safety training to its workers, or a reckless, distracted or drunk driver who flouted the laws simply because he was in a hurry.
According to the nonprofit The Amputee Coalition, trauma represents the second-leading cause of limb loss, accounting for 45% of the 185,000 amputations that take place each year in the country. (Vascular disease at 54% is the leading cause.)
A number of challenges
Regardless of the negligent party who caused your injury, you must face the challenge and confront it every day of your life. Among the challenges include:
- The possibility of ongoing surgeries: Limb reconstruction involves operating on blood vessels, nerves, muscles and bones. A series of skin grafts and reconstructive surgeries also may take place.
- Hospital stays for weeks at a time: A lengthy recuperation in the hospital is likely, and many admissions are possible.
- Psychological trauma: The accident likely left you shocked and traumatized. Treatment for your mental health may be necessary to overcome depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Ongoing therapy: Therapists may help you with your physical, occupational and mental health challenges. The healing process may take a long time.
- The use of a prosthetic limb: Adjustments will continue after getting fitted for a new limb. You may even have to try a series of different prosthetic limbs before settling on the right one.
- Relearning daily tasks: This may include driving, walking, dressing, eating and grooming.
Different challenges will surface on different days. Confront them and continue to look ahead.
Persevere and adjust
Losing a limb may prove to be one of the most traumatic incidents in your life. It also may lead to coping with challenges you never expected. Perseverance is important. Do your best to adjust to what happened to you.