Traumatic Amputation: More Than the Loss of a Limb
The sudden loss of a limb is a tragic and painful experience. It is not something you can prepare for, and it is an injury that will affect you the rest of your life. You will have to learn how to use mobility aids and prosthetics, and you may experience a loss of income not only for the amount of time you will be out of work while healing and receiving treatment, but also possibly due to losing your job entirely because you are not able to do the tasks you were able to do before.
When you lose a limb due to severe injury in an accident, you are at a much higher risk for infection during recuperation; and when you are fully healed, your body’s musculoskeletal system will have to adjust to the difference from having had a limb to suddenly being without, not to mention phantom pain. All of these factors are likely to lead to a decrease in the quality of life, and there is a significant possibility of experiencing depression, isolation, and anxiety. When you are forced to have your limb amputated due to an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, it is important that you seek out the counsel of a traumatic amputation attorney so that you can receive compensation for pain, suffering, and economic loss.
What are common causes of traumatic amputation in Vancouver, WA?
A traumatic amputation occurs when, during an accident or violent act, a person’s limb is either severed completely or is injured to the point where it cannot be saved and must be surgically removed. Unlike amputations for illnesses or diseases, one cannot prepare for a traumatic amputation. It happens suddenly and without warning, and is not only physically traumatic but emotionally as well.
There are many causes of traumatic amputations, and those include:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Burn injuries
- Construction site injuries
- Malfunctioning equipment
- Bicycle accidents
Traumatic amputations can happen anywhere at any time – that is part of the reason they are called “traumatic.” While every one of us can imagine the enormity of losing a limb, there is a lot more involved with this type of injury, and can cause more problems than may at first be expected.
Complications of a traumatic amputation
Despite the obvious complication of being without a limb, there are a number of complications from the removal itself. Some common complications from traumatic amputation include:
- Infection. Like with most surgeries, you are at a higher risk of infection directly after a traumatic amputation, especially if the limb was severed at the site of the accident where excess germs and bacteria are not controlled, unlike in a sanitized hospital.
- Myocardial infarction. Common especially in lower limb amputation patients, it is still somewhat of a mystery as to why there is an increased risk for myocardial infarctions (heart attacks). Some research suggests it has to do with insulin resistance, psychological distress, and deviant behaviors (such as smoking, drinking, and eating high fat foods). Doctors often suggest that amputation patients refrain from these behaviors to decrease the risk of heart disease.
- Autonomic dysfunction. According to Stanford Medicine, this is a condition where the autonomic nervous system (ANS) does not function properly. The ANS is responsible for maintaining balance and well-being, such as heartbeat, breathing and digestion.
- Phantom pain. While similar but not the same as the commonly experienced phantom limb sensation, phantom pain is pain that feels like it is originating from the removed limb. These sensations are real and originate from the brain and spinal cord, though they were originally thought to be psychological. Phantom pain can present a week after the amputation or a month after. The pain (described as being shooting, stabbing, throbbing, crushing) can be continuous or interrupted. The cause of phantom pain can be attributed to mixed signals from the brain, nerve damage, and scar tissue at the amputation site.
These are just some complications and immediate effects that can occur after a traumatic amputation. The physical pain and stress can be difficult enough, but there is more to traumatic amputation than that. Unfortunately, many amputation patients experience a loss in quality of life, and become depressed, anxious, and may isolate themselves.
Psychological effects of traumatic amputation
The emotional shock of an amputation injury, even more a traumatic amputation, is often severe. The victim’s day to day life is affected, they may lose their job, and they are likely not able to participate in hobbies or activities with their family and friends as they used to. Common psychological effects of a traumatic amputation include:
- Despair/suicidal ideation
- Tendency to isolate
- Decrease in self-esteem
The memory of the accident that caused the injury can also be a source of psychological torture, and victims may experience nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks, and heightened periods of extreme anxiety. This is known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Losing a limb is one of the worst injuries a person can experience from an accident – whether that be a car accident, motorcycle accident, or an accident while you are out for a ride on your bicycle. It catches you off-guard, happening suddenly and painfully, and changes your life forever. When such an injury is caused by someone’s negligence, it is only just and right that you receive restitution for your pain and suffering. Having the finances available for proper treatment and physical and emotional therapy is important to progress toward a brighter future. Despite the tragedy of the event, many people with limb loss find strength through their struggle, and come out stronger than ever.
At Philbrook Law Office, that is what we want for you, and we will fight for you to secure every resource available to use in your effort to heal, recover, and move forward. To schedule an appointment to discuss your options in seeking compensation, call us or use our contact page. We have offices in Vancouver, WA as well as Battle Ground. Let us help you. You are not alone.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.