Amputations (or limb loss) can occur during, or be medically necessary after, auto accidents, workplace accidents, the use of defective products, and certain medical conditions, notably certain forms of diabetes, vascular diseases, infections, and cancer. Amputations may necessitate physical therapy and other rehabilitation, reconstructive surgery, prosthetic devices, wheelchairs, and medication, the costs of which are not only high, but continue indefinitely into the future.
About on in every 200 people in the US has had an amputation. 38 percent of the 1.6 million persons who were living with the loss of a limb in the US in 2005 had an amputation secondary to dysvascular disease (diseases that affect blood flow, such as arteriosclerosis) with a comorbid diagnosis (the effect that diseases have in addition to the primary disease) of diabetes mellitus.
90 percent of all amputations are of lower limbs, and 75 percent of these are due to peripheral vascular disease. 75 percent of upper extremity amputations are due to trauma. Trauma is also the second most common cause for lower extremity amputations. Tumors are the most common cause for amputation among people aged 10-20, and approximately 26 per 100,000 newborns have congenital limb deficiencies. Congenital limb deficiencies are nearly twice as common in the upper limb.
The majority of amputations attributed to trauma are caused by motor vehicle accidents, work-related injuries, and higher risk recreational activities. Leading work-related injuries that result in amputation include machine trauma, and electrical and chemical burns.
Several health issues beyond that of substitutes for lost body parts must be assessed in individuals with amputations. Particular attention should be given to the musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary, and neurologic systems (including vision and cognitive function). The residual limb and, in cases of amputation due to peripheral vascular disease, the opposite limb should also be assessed. General health limitations could affect a patient's progress in rehabilitation.
The patient's social support system is also important due to the family or caregiver's needed assistance in compensating for environmental, physical and cognitive limitations. Psychoemotional considerations can significantly affect a patient's ability to reach his or her full functional potential.
Physical and emotional recovery after limb loss is usually costly, both financially and otherwise. If a loved one's amputation was necessary after, or as the result of, another's negligence, you may be entitled to both economic and non-economic damages. These may include:
- medical expenses (including those for prostheses)
- future medical expenses
- current and future loss of earning capacity that results from the injury
- compensation for the pain, inconvenience and change in lifestyle the injury caused
- any emotional harm the injury caused
Contact a qualified personal injury attorney for a confidential assessment of your case.