Limb Loss

What are Limb Loss and Limb Differences?

Limb Loss generally refers to the absence of any part of an extremity (arm or leg) due to surgical or traumatic amputation.  The term, Limb Differences, is used in reference to the congenital absence or malformation of limbs.

What causes Limb Loss and Limb Differences?

Limb Loss can occur due to trauma, infection, diabetes, vascular disease, cancer and other diseases.  The causes of congenital Limb Differences are frequently unknown.  In the past, many cases of Limb Difference were attributed to the use of drugs, such as thalidomide by the mother during pregnancy.

How can I reduce the risk of amputation?

  • Practice good foot hygiene and care, especially if you are diabetic
  • Stop smoking, or don't start
  • Practice good safety habits when operating machinery (lawnmowers, etc.)
  • Reduce the risk of limb deficiencies in your unborn child by taking medications only when absolutely necessary and under your doctor's supervision

Are there increased risks for other health problems?

Limb Loss is more often the result of, rather than the cause of other health problems.  Since the loss of a limb can result in decreased activity, the risk of health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle may be increased.  Residual limb and phantom pain, as well as skin problems associated with prosthesis use are also common.

What is involved in caring for people with Limb Loss and Limb Differences?

Care for a person who has undergone amputation will depend greatly upon his or her overall health and strength.  Persons who are candidates for prosthesis use will make several visits to their prosthetic facility to obtain a correctly fitting device.  Physical/occupational therapy or gait training may be needed to facilitate successful use of prostheses and other assistive devices to regain independence.  Some new amputees may also need professional assistance with emotional adjustment to limb loss.  Amputees whose health does not permit prosthesis use may require more assistance with mobil

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