The loss of a limb as a result of an injury is one of the most catastrophic losses a person can suffer. Fortunately, however, there have been tremendous advancements in the medical care and rehabilitation of amputees over the last 25 years.
Types of Amputation Injuries
According to the National Limb Loss Information Center, there are approximately 1.7 million people in the United States living with limb loss, a number which roughly translates to 1 out of every 200 Americans.
Statistics indicate that roughly one-quarter of the amputations suffered each year are due to trauma to a limb or extremity. More than three quarters of all amputations, including those involving traumatic injury, are performed on males. Although there are many causes of traumatic injury, these injuries frequently occur:
(a) In car or motorcycle accidents;
(b) When the victim has suffered severe burns;
(c) As a result of hazards in the workplace; or
(d) From combat-related wounds.
Medical Reasons for Amputation
As noted, the most common reasons for amputating a human limb are traumatic injury or disease. When either of these occurs in a human limb, it damages the ability of the circulatory system to supply blood flow, which carries oxygen and other nutrients, to the damaged area. This lack of blood flow often causes human tissue within the damaged limb to die. This dying tissue then exposes the rest of the body to serious infection, such as gangrene. According to the
In many cases, doctors will first attempt to save the limb, if at all possible. This may include attempts at reconstructing the tissue or blood vessels to repair the damaged areas and improve blood flow, as well as treatment with antibiotics. Doctors may also attempt to remove smaller parts of damaged tissue without having to remove the entire limb.
However, when doctors determine that a limb is not healthy enough to save through either natural human cell regeneration or through surgical reconstruction, they may advise that amputation is necessary.