Advances in Amputation
Serious Injury specialist Alix Walker explains the history of amputations and support organisations for those affected.
Amputations are on the increase and have sadly become a reality for many people, including those innocently involved in road traffic accidents or accidents at work. With modern advances in surgery, rehabilitation and prosthetic design, the amputation of a limb does not have to be a life sentence for anyone affected.
The amputation of any limb requires the injured person to adjust to that loss and learn to adapt and cope with everyday life. Physical therapy is necessary to help the injured person adapt, helping reduce the risk of long term complications and allowing for proper healing following the amputation procedure.
History of amputations
The ritual of amputation has existed for thousands of years. Evidence of ancient amputation can be found in prosthetic replacement limbs which have been discovered in Egyptian tombs and in New Mexico.
One of the main functions of surgeons in Hippocrates’ time was performing amputations. The amputation procedures were often carried out as a result of injuries sustained during war, which was a high-risk procedure due to the inability to control blood loss. In 1674 the tourniquet was invented and significantly improved the fatality rate for amputation procedures.
During the First World War 42,000 amputations were carried out to save lives.
Causes of amputation
As well as road traffic accidents (which account for around 5% of all amputations) or accidents at work, there are a number of other causes of amputation, including diabetes (with the NHS reporting that people with diabetes are 15x more likely to require an amputation than those without).
In older age groups, vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and Raynaud’s disease are causes of amputation. Other causes of amputation may be from infection which cannot be contained.
Statistics show of those who have had amputations, 60% are male and 40% are female.
It has been reported that the average age for a lower limb amputation in the UK is 70 years (with 22% of lower limb amputees being over the age of 80).
Statistics from the World Health Organisation show that the number of amputees in Western countries is between 0.5% and 1.25% of the population.
Living with an amputation
For anyone who may lose or has already lost a limb, coping with the effects of an amputation both physically and psychologically can be difficult, especially learning to adapt and accept the residual limb, which can be very difficult.
Although amputation has little effect on life expectancy, there are ongoing health issues which require consideration such as phantom pain, wound infection and the risk of deep vein thrombosis. In spite of which following a strict regime to care for the residual limb, an active life can still be enjoyed.
Support for Amputees
There are many services available to amputees for guidance and support such as The Limbless Association and The Douglas Bader Foundation. Such support for amputees is still growing and advice on amputations is more widely available than in the past.
Why call Burnetts?
Here at Burnetts we offer a dedicated service for people looking to claim for amputations caused by someone else’s negligence (whether that be personal injury or medical negligence). Where liability is admitted, in most cases the Defendant will agree to offer a comprehensive rehabilitation plan to help the injured party restore some level of normality with their lives.
If you have any queries regarding amputations, please contact Alix Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Alix is a Solicitor in the Medical Negligence and Serious Injury team.
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