People with missing limbs are often referred to as amputees. A large number of amputations are the result of trauma, usually automobile, machinery or explosive accidents. Traumatic amputations occur in a much younger and more active population than those due to diseases. Certain diseases such as diabetes, vascular diseases and tumors may necessitate amputation. In fact, complications from diabetes are among the main causes of acquired amputations, particularly in the older age group.

Congenital malformation accounts for a small portion of reported amputations. In these cases, a child is born with an abnormally shortened, malformed limb or no limb at all. People with short or missing limbs develop strategies for coping by using other limbs, such as writing or driving with the feet. Many also use prostheses or adaptive devices. Some terms used to describe the location of an amputation are unilateral (one arm or leg), bilateral (two arms or legs), double (one arm and one leg), and multiple (more than two limbs). 

Limb amputations cause disabilities to men, women and children. People who have had amputations confront many challenges that can affect their ability to live healthy independent lives. Health care personnel can help people with amputations, their families and communities to understand the care that is needed following amputations and the process of rehabilitation that can reduce the disabilities. With good care, training, and appropriate fitting of prostheses, people with limb amputations can return to previous activities, including household responsibilities, school or work.

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