Body Image Help for Those with Limb Amputations & Differences

Body Image Help for Those with Limb Amputations & Differences

Thursday, 07 July 2022 19:16

Life-changing events, both good and bad, have a way of altering how we look at ourselves and the world. When the worst happens, and we experience a loss of any kind, grief can set in. 

Everyone handles loss differently. Our age, cultural, and social circumstances all affect our recovery. For those who have lost a limb, that grief and pain can negatively affect how you perceive your body and self-worth.

Body Image Help for Those with Limb Amputations & Differences

The emotional and physical recovery from loss is never easy. No one has the same history or support framework to make a simple solution. 

It takes time and effort to cope with and overcome the loss of a limb. Our limbs allow us to explore and interact with the environment around us, and their loss is an irreversible change to how we see ourselves and our place in the world.

How Body Image Forms and Impacts Lives

Most people are concerned in some way about their body image. It is natural to compare ourselves to those around us, and anything we see as a flaw can get amplified if we ourselves are outside what we experience or are told is normal. Body image encompasses a number of things but can be chiefly described as:

  • What we believe about our appearance
  • How we feel about our body, height, and shape
  • How we control and sense our body as we move

A negative body image manifests as a lack of confidence, feeling ashamed, embarrassed, or awkward in your own body. And those feelings don’t form in isolation. Our culture, family, and friends all help determine how we feel about our bodies. And for younger individuals, this is even more true. Facing limb differences with children and body image concerns can be challenging.

Disparaging talk and thoughts about body image can lead to other negative feelings, low mood, depression, or negative eating patterns.

Ways to Improve Our Body Image

Having an amputation or coping with a limb difference is a significant event. But many of the ways to cope with these differences are the same as anyone else with poor body image. It is normal to need time to adjust. Everyone goes through ups and downs, be patient and believe in yourself.

Here are some recommended ways to take action toward improving your body image:

  • Be Open: It can be hard to open up to people about things we struggle with. But reach out to your friends and family, they likely want to help but may not know what you want or need. Talk about how you are feeling and what hopes or goals you have. If you find it difficult to speak to people close to you personally, reach out to a support group.
  • Get Active: Exercise is about more than being physically fit, though that is a great benefit. Leading a more active lifestyle can ease stress, anxiety, and the symptoms of depression. Start small; even a short daily walk can do wonders. 
  • Treat Yourself: When our body image falters, we can start to feel like we don’t deserve good things, but you do. Pamper yourself in whatever that means for you. Light that fancy candle you’ve been saving, go on a trip with friends, get a massage, and compliment yourself.
  • Occupy Your Time: Whether it is returning to work, going back to an old hobby, or picking up something completely new, find a way to occupy your time in a productive manner. It will help you stay active, connect to like-minded people, and help build a sense of accomplishment and independence.

Getting discouraged is natural. When you feel you aren’t improving, look back to where you started. Odds are you have come further than you realize. Don’t let your desire to be fully recovered overwhelm you. Celebrate your small victories and look for the positives.

Know When to Get Help

Negative body image can affect our mental and social well-being to the point of increasing the chance of depression, one of the most complex stages of grief to move on from. Amputees or those with limb differences may notice a few regular signs of depression that are difficult to ward off.

  • Extreme loss of appetite or weight gain
  • Trouble concentrating, remembering things, and lethargy
  • Change in sleeping habits - sleeping more or less on either extreme
  • Loss of interest in activities like hobbies, sports, or sex
  • Social withdrawal from friends and family
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or emptiness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability, or frustration over small things

Depression and poor body image are deeply intertwined. If you experience symptoms of depression for a prolonged time or have thoughts of self-harm, please seek a medical professional's help.

Orthopedic and Prosthetic Appliances

Getting back out into the world and back to activities you enjoy is a big part of obtaining and maintaining a positive body image. For many who have undergone a mib amputation or have limb differences, the use of an orthopedic device or prosthetic can help. Prosthetic limbs not only help aid what you are physically capable of but might help you feel less conscious in public about your appearance. 

Prosthetics take time and practice to master, but they can help get you out into the world again and help overcome social anxiety.

The Orthopedic Appliance Company offers the highest quality bracing and artificial limbs across Western North Carolina, Upstate South Carolina, Eastern Tennessee, and North Georgia. We specialize in restoring mobility and independence to individuals facing the absence of a limb with comprehensive prosthetic services. 

If you have any questions about our services or need to set up an appointment, contact us online or call.