Limb Loss Is More Common Than You May Think
Over 2.1 million people in the US are living with limb loss. This figure is expected to exceed 4.2 million by 2050. Every year, about 185,000 people undergo an amputation due to vascular disease, cancer, trauma, and other causes. No matter what your experience, living with a prosthetic is undoubtedly an adjustment.
Peer support groups can be nothing short of transformational. This is no exaggeration. They provide a safe place for you to discuss your experience and feelings. While your family and friends may be supportive, it can be tremendously beneficial to meet with those who have faced similar situations, struggles, and challenges. Their empathy and understanding reinforce the reality that you are not alone. You don’t have to explain (but you certainly can!); your peers get it. They have been there. They are there now - with you.
Seeing how peers have tackled challenges and triumphed can be inspirational. Can you do everything you did before? Maybe, maybe not. Can you adjust? Yes. Can you participate (and lead!) activities you love and have experiences you never dreamed of? Absolutely. In your peer support group for those with prosthetics, you hear first-hand accounts of how people have made physical adaptations and are leading fulfilling lives. You also hear their stories of hardship, and this, too, can be transformative.
You can serve as inspiration yourself. Someone may look to you for guidance or advice or support. This facilitates their healing - and yours. Becoming a source of support or a mentor to someone else can build your own self-worth, as well as a sense of purpose. Simply providing a friendly, understanding ear can be life-changing for a peer, for the group, and for you yourself.
Now, how do you find a peer support group for adjusting to life with a prosthetic?
Finding Your Peer Support Group
Ask your doctor and healthcare team. Your medical professionals should be able to provide resources about peer support groups in your area. Don’t be afraid to ask. They are there to help you with the physical side of your adjustment, as well as with the psychological and emotional aspects.
Veterans can also find resources through their VA hospital and the Department of Defense. Your care providers should help point you in the right direction.
Google it. We turn to Google for just about everything these days. Look for “peer support groups for people with prosthetics in my city” or similar terms and see what the search results have to say. Make a short list, visit their websites, and contact their leaders for more information. Finding the right peer group is essential.
Try the Amputee Coalition. This nonprofit provides a host of services and resources for those adjusting to life with a prosthetic. Among these is a Peer Visit. Certified Peer Visitors can meet with you to provide one-on-one support in your home. You can even have a visit via Skype, in case there are no Visitors in your area or you are more comfortable speaking online.
The Amputee Coalition also offers over 400 support groups across the country. See if there is one in your area.
Another great benefit the Coalition provides is online support. You can connect with a community of peers on their Facebook page to supplement other support groups.
AMPOWER is another terrific resource. They, too, offer Peer Support Visits and other support services. Check them out.
After adjusting and learning how to survive and thrive with a prosthetic, some people choose to train as Peer Visitors or even start their own support groups. Contact organizations like the Amputee Coalition if you feel you are ready to take this step. Helping others is rewarding in and of itself - but it also helps you.
Adjusting to life with a prosthetic is challenging. At times, it is downright hard. The support of your peers can be an incredible source of strength and healing. You will find that you not only adjust, you start to thrive. Amputations and limb differences need not stop you from living a full, satisfying life. When it is difficult to believe that, when you start to doubt yourself, you can turn to your peers for a powerful reminder. You are not alone. For more assistance, contact Orthopedic Appliance Company.