What Is Limb Loss/Limb Difference?
There are just under two million people in the United States living with limb loss. Each day doctors and surgeons perform 500 amputations.
Limb Loss: Limb loss or amputation is the condition wherein someone loses a limb for one reason or another. Common causes of limb loss include:
- Injuries resulting from vehicle accidents, sports accidents, or some other traumatic event
- Diseases such as diabetes, blood clots, osteomyelitis, and blood vessel disease
- Some kind of surgery, especially to remove a bone or muscle tumor
Per Johns Hopkins Medicine, nearly 70% of all limb loss results from amputation to upper limbs.
Limb Difference: This term is used to describe a situation in which someone is either born with or develops a limb that is atypical. Often, limb difference may be the result of a developmental issue in the womb, accident, or disease. According to the Amputee Coalition, "The CDC estimates that every year approximately 1500 babies in the U.S. are born with upper limb differences and 750 babies with lower limb differences."
If you are a person with limb difference or limb loss, you know that life is still beautiful despite your unique challenges. Limb Loss Awareness Month speaks to that truth.
How Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month Began
The Amputee Coalition was founded in 1986 to provide resources and support for people with limb loss, their families, and healthcare workers. They have done incredibly important work on behalf of amputees and their loved ones. Among their many initiatives, they declared April Limb Loss Awareness Month:
"Naming April National Limb Loss Awareness Month was a bold move by the Amputee Coalition in 2010. Today the month is celebrated across the United States and around the world as a time to recognize those living with limb loss and to raise awareness about limb loss prevention."
The Amputee Coalition honors those with limb loss and limb difference in many ways, including raising awareness about the challenges of life after amputation.
What You Can Do To Help This April
If you do not have limb difference or have not experienced limb loss, you can still help this April. You may have a friend or family member who has experienced or will undergo an amputation. Here are some ways you can help:
- You can offer to be there with them for doctor's visits and rehab appointments.
- You can help your friend or family member rearrange their apartment or house to be friendlier for their situation.
- You can provide rides to and from support groups for people with limb difference.
- You can help by not avoiding difficult conversations.
- You can always ask how to best address the differences and what they need to embrace their challenges.
If you do not know anyone with limb difference personally, there are still ways you can help this April:
- Make your retail store or restaurant more accessible and easy to navigate for those with limb loss.
- Financially support people and organizations that help those with limb loss.
- Take time to share the stories you hear of people with limb difference and limb loss.
- Ask your local organizations how you can be more involved.
At Orthopedic Appliance Company, we want to take a moment to honor and support people with limb loss, limb difference, and their loved ones. For 60 years, we have been providing the highest quality artificial limbs and prosthetic devices for the people of Asheville and western North Carolina. In that time, we have met so many amazing people who are committed to restoring their mobility and not letting limb difference cause them to appreciate life in this area any less. If you would like to know more about how we can help restore mobility for you or the person in your life who has gone through amputation or who has limb loss, we are here to help. Contact Orthopedic Appliance Company. We are here to answer your questions and to help you get started on your new custom artificial limb.