What is AMPUTATION?

Formally AMPUTATION is the removal of a limb through trauma or surgery because of disease or illness.  AMPUTATION is a surgical control that might be used for a range of conditions including preventative measures, improving quality of life outcomes for those with problem limbs and for palliative care.

However for the majority of Amputees the process is a not a choice. It is a Last Resort. It is used to save your Life!

As a result AMPUTATION commonly has a significant impact on the mental health in addition to the physical health of an Amputee.

 

Does an AMPUTATION need to be a whole limb?

While technically AMPUTATION is considered as a significant limb reduction or removal, as a community we understand the complexity created by what an individual feels is a significant Limb Loss or Limb Difference.  Everyone is impacted differently and has their own body image perspective

We would commonly start considering AMPUTATION impact on those who have lost from two or more digits and above.  So as an Upper Limb Amputee that’s two fingers or more generally and for Lower Limb Amputees two toes to partial foot and above.  Even in these perceived “minimal loss” situations how an individual feels or is personally impacted can be significant.

For all we recognise they are apart of the Limb Difference community and will need compassion.

 

How will AMPUTATION impact a life?

AMPUTATION is still a social taboo topic despite it having been a part of human history going back to the time of Ancient Egypt.  We still as a society respond in a particular way towards Amputees.  It’s not uncommon for parents and adults to still tell children to “Not ask Questions” or “Not to Approach”.  Part of that is that intrinsic discomfort humans feel towards being incomplete of whole physically… our Body Image.  Another part is being uncomfortable with communicating to someone living that experience. There are a range of emotions and concepts both parties feel in such situations and no matter the mechanism the social taboo has a deep effect on an individuals psychology even before we start considering the physical impact

On the physical side we normal separate out the individual implications on normal everyday activities based on the limb difference associated with

Upper Limb (Arm) – this might be everything from 2 digit difference like a Thumb and Index finger loss to Hand loss, Below Elbow, Above Elbow and Fore Quarter loss.  But it is very important to recognise that each has its own characteristics and unique impacts on everyday life activities. Imagine trying to chop or grate a carrot when missing a thumb and forefinger. Now try that on when missing the arm just below the shoulder.  How will you do up a button or drive a car?  Suddenly things get difficult fast.

Lower Limb (Leg) – the obvious physical impact is the loss of mobility when thinking about Lower Limb loss.  These AMPUATIONS range from multiple toes including the Big Toe, Partial Foot, Below Knee, Through Knee and Above Knee. Once again each type has its own impact that needs to be recognised. A loss of a Big Toe might seem insignificant compared to a Below Knee but the complications on being able to walk cleanly or push off in each stride is far more complex. Then there is Above Knee and Through Knee amputation. You need to learn how to walk again with these losses. But what happens if you want to take a shower, climb stairs or go to the bathroom in the middle of the night?  Driving again is changed. Simply getting out of a chair can be 100% harder to do.

These are just a tiny number of examples to imagine that change and it is a far more extensive shift in achieving life activities we would normally take for granted.

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