Limb Loss Awareness Month
We have seen many images in the news of veterans returning from a tour of duty with lost limbs. As tragic and heartbreaking as these are, amputations are actually more common than many think, with more than 500 Americans losing a limb each day.
There are a number of causes for limb loss, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, traumatic injuries, birth defects and cancer. Up to 60 percent of these are preventable. Limb loss can cause significant physical and emotional challenges to cope with the loss, but the Amputee Coalition of America, a non-profit organization promoting education and awareness surrounding amputation, designated April as Limb Loss Awareness Month in 2011. Last year, a total of 42 states have also declared April as Limb Loss Awareness Month, including Missouri and Illinois.
They have organized a number of events and activities as part of Limb Loss Awareness Month, and there are many opportunities for interested persons to get involved.
One is Show Your Mettle Day on Saturday, April 23, 2016. On that day, the Coalition encourages all amputees to proudly show their devices or wheelchairs to demonstrate that amputees can cope with their difficulties with spirit, resilience and courage. They also encourage amputees to post photos on social media wearing a prosthetic device, or in a wheelchair or other assistive device.
They are also sponsoring Hill Day in Washington, DC on Wednesday, April 20 to raise awareness among elected officials and to show a unified voice for the issues surrounding limb loss. These issues include insurance fairness to improve access to prosthetic and orthotic care, and funding for research and programs that can improve the lives of amputees.
The Amputee Coalition will also be holding various awareness and fundraising activities in communities across the country. There will be participation from amputee support groups, veterans, prosthetists and rehabilitation centers. These events will also bring attention to preventive measures that can be taken to avoid the loss of an arm or a leg, and recognize the service of military veterans who have experienced limb loss. You can visit Limb Loss Awareness Month for more information.
At P&O Care, we support the efforts of the Amputee Coalition and encourage our patients and all amputees to help spread the word and demonstrate that through limb loss, hope can still be found.
Limb Loss Facts
- In 2011, the Amputation Coalition designated April as national Limb Loss Awareness Month to increase our understanding about limb loss.
- Every day more than 500 Americans suffer the loss of a limb. It is estimated that nearly two million Americans live with limb loss.
- Common causes of limb loss are poor blood circulation from atherosclerosis or diabetes, traumatic injuries, birth defects and cancer.
- In 2009, it was estimated that the health care costs for limb amputation in the United States was more than $8.3 billion.
- Learning to use a prosthetic device after an amputation can take time and effort. Physical therapy can also be helpful.
- Amputees can go through a wide range of emotions, including anger, sadness and frustration. Counseling can often help – peer visitors!
- African Americans are up to four times more likely to suffer a limb loss than white Americans, with Hispanics also at a greater risk.
- In 2014, roughly 60% of lower-limb amputations not caused by traumatic injuries among people 20 years or older were diabetes-related.
- Over 90% of amputations with vascular causes involve the lower limb. Nearly 70% of amputations caused by trauma involve the upper limb.
- An estimated 60 percent of amputations are preventable. Prevention includes quitting smoking, managing cardiovascular issues, observing safety practices, and treating infected wounds properly.