The Consequences of Limb Amputations for Accident Victims
We unthinkingly rely on our bodies to help us accomplish daily tasks—from brushing our teeth to performing our jobs. Our hands, arms, legs, and feet carry and balance us daily. Whether sitting behind a task, chasing our children, or performing physical labor, our jobs and daily lives are shaped by our physical abilities. That is why a limb amputation is a severe and significant injury, forcing amputees to face life with new challenges—physically, emotionally, and financially.
Every year, approximately 185,000 amputations occur for a wide variety of reasons. For some, an amputation results from a medical disease, but for many others, these serious procedures directly result from another person’s negligence and carelessness. Here, learn more about limb amputations, the common causes, life after amputation, and possible legal options.
Common Causes of Limb Amputations
An amputation is defined by Johns Hopkins Medicine as an operation to remove all or part of an arm or leg. There are many reasons medical professionals deem an amputation necessary. The leading medical causes of amputation include poor blood flow (arterial disease), diabetes, and cancer. However, the top reason for an amputation has little to do with medical disease. Traumas account for 77 percent of all amputations, according to a study from Brown University. Common trauma-related causes of amputations include:
- Infection as a result of a traumatic injury
While these are not the only causes of amputation, they account for many significant injuries. These accidents can occur in just a moment—and can shape the future for accident victims and their families forever.
Amputation Treatment can be Complicated and Invasive
An amputation requires major surgery. A surgeon will make an incision at the amputation site, allowing enough healthy tissue to cover the stump. In some cases, it is impossible to close the tissue over the stump during the initial operation, and a second procedure must occur later. After the surgery, the victim will likely have to remain in the hospital for at least a few days. Physical rehabilitation often begins a few weeks after the surgery. For amputees, a prosthetic limb can be fitted, though the process is lengthy and requires many trips to medical specialists.
For many amputees, emotional recovery can take much longer. It can be extremely difficult to cope with the loss of the physical function, loss of sensation, and the cosmetic changes that occur after an amputation. Among other challenges, many amputees experience phantom pain and depression. Phantom pain is pain that feels like it’s coming from the body part that is no longer there. While previously thought to be a psychological problem, experts now recognize that phantom pain is real. This pain fades over time for some, while others must undergo specialized therapies or take medication to manage the problem. Additionally, some amputees will experience depression as a result of their injuries. Many amputees will also be frustrated by lack of mobility, embarrassed at their new physical look, or feel isolated and alone.
The High Price of Amputation and Recovery
In addition, many financial considerations must be made after an amputation. Often, amputees cannot work and earn income during their recovery, or even after depending on the nature of their job. This loss of income, coupled with the high recovery price, can be devastating. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the immediate costs of amputations are near $8.3 billion every year. This figure does not consider the additional high costs of prosthetics, rehabilitation, or any home and vehicle modifications that may be necessary.
Additionally, a study from Johns Hopkins predicts that the number of Americans living with a limb amputation will double by 2050. The costs associated with these injuries will continue to rise, and the victims and their families can face increasing financial challenges during an already difficult time.
Long-Term Recovery is Possible after a Limb Amputation
A limb amputation is a traumatic and life-changing experience. Accident victims who undergo an amputation often experience many consequences—from physical disabilities to emotional struggles. However, with the right help, it is possible to lead a successful and full life after an amputation. While the most important first step is to find the right medical team to ensure your good health, an experienced legal team can help address the remaining financial and personal needs. In Delaware, accident victims may be able to seek justice and obtain compensation for their injuries due to another person’s negligence.
If you or someone you love has undergone a limb amputation after an accident, you may be eligible to file a claim. The skilled injury lawyers at Morris James have represented many victims just like you, and we can help you learn more about your rights and legal options.