Amputation Injury

Roughly 185,000 people undergo amputations each year in the United States. As a result, about 2 million amputees live in the U.S. This might seem like a large number, but amputations can range in severity from a single fingertip to several limbs.

Whenever someone loses a body part, they lose some functionality, which can cause minor inconveniences or major disruptions to their lives. In many cases, amputees must change jobs or quit working altogether. As a result, these injuries can threaten a victim’s physical health and economic stability.

What Types of Amputations Can Occur?

Amputations occur when you lose a body part. 

Common parts involved in amputations include:

  • Fingers
  • Hands
  • Arms
  • Toes
  • Feet
  • Legs
  • Ears

Amputations either result from diseases or injuries. Some diseases that lead to amputations include diabetes, vascular disease, and cancer. Injury-related amputations occur in the following two ways:

Traumatic Amputations

Traumatic amputations happen when a traumatic event severs or tears a body part from your body. These injuries often produce amputations at joints in a process called “disarticulation.” In this process, the forces on your body tear it apart at a joint.

An example of this injury can happen in a workplace accident where your hand gets caught in a chain. When the chain moves, it can tear your hand off.

Traumatic amputations can also occur when a body part gets severed. For example, suppose someone crashes into your motorcycle, throwing you forward into your motorcycle’s windscreen. As the windscreen breaks apart, the sharp edges can slice your ear from your head.

Doctors can sometimes reattach an amputated body part in a process called replantation. During replantation, doctors reconnect the nerves and blood vessels to the amputated body part. They will reconnect the muscles and skin. However, even a successful replantation will result in some loss of feeling and movement.

A successful replantation could depend on several of the following factors:

  • Contamination with microorganisms or chemicals
  • The condition of the body part and the stump
  • How quickly you reach medical help
  • Whether you preserved the body part in ice

For example, suppose that a vicious dog bites off your toe. Doctors might replant it if you put the toe on ice and reach the emergency room quickly. On the other hand, the dog might have chewed up the toe, making it unsuitable for replantation. Also, the dog’s saliva might have contaminated the toe and stump.

Surgical Amputations

Surgical amputations happen when you suffer an injury so severe that doctors cannot save the body part. As a result, they must amputate or risk your life. Specifically, your damaged body part could develop gangrene as the cells die. The bacteria that grow in the dying part can spread through the body and kill you.

The process of amputating a body part involves several steps, including:

  • Identifying healthy tissue and damaged tissue
  • Planning the amputation to preserve healthy tissue but eliminate damaged tissue
  • Cutting the soft tissue while sealing nerves and blood vessels
  • Sawing the bone and smoothing it to remove rough edges
  • Shaping a stump that can eventually interface with a prosthetic

At the end of the amputation procedure, doctors may leave the incision open or close it. If they leave it open, they can more easily remove additional tissue if necessary. If they close it, they reduce the risk of infection.

Eventually, your stump will heal enough that experts can fit you with a prosthetic device. With modern advances, you can control the movement of a prosthetic with the nerve endings in the stump.

What Are Common Causes of Amputation Injuries?

Many injuries and conditions might require a surgical amputation. Some reasons doctors may amputate a body part include the following:

Nerve Damage

When an injury severs nerves, you lose feeling and movement in the body part. You could badly injure the part and not realize it. Without movement, your body part might become a burden that risks injury or infection. While it does not pose an immediate threat to your life, doctors might recommend elective surgical amputation.

For example, suppose that you get into a pedestrian accident that paralyzes your arm. If you lose all function in your hand and fingers, you will have no feeling to tell you when you develop a problem in your injured arm.

Shattered Bones

A severe fracture will break the bone into three or more pieces. Since there is at least one loose piece of bone, you will need reconstructive surgery to rebuild it. If pieces are missing or too small, reconstructive surgery might not be possible. Instead, your doctor may recommend amputating the body part since it will have no support without the bone.

Vascular Damage

The leading reason for amputations is vascular diseases and injuries. When your blood vessels cannot deliver blood to your cells, they begin to die. Dead cells develop gangrene, potentially leading to a life-threatening infection. If your doctor cannot repair the blood vessels, they may recommend amputation instead.

What Complications Can Result From an Amputation Injury?

The injuries associated with amputations do not stop with the loss of a body part. Amputees have a high rate of complications, including the following:

Infection

Infections happen when bacteria or viruses enter the body through an open wound. Whether you suffer a traumatic amputation or doctors remove your body part through surgery, you will have a massive open wound that can allow pathogens into your body.

Depression

According to one study, at least 30% of amputees suffer from depression

This emotional condition can arise for many reasons, including:

  • Grief for the lost body part
  • Fear for their future earning capacity after their disability
  • Anxiety over social ostracism for having a disfiguring injury

Psychologists also believe that successfully navigating depression can help amputees. Once they have processed their feelings of loss, they do not need to go through them again.

Phantom Sensations

Phantom sensations are sensations that appear to emanate from the missing body part. They can include pain, itching, buzzing, or other sensations. Up to 80% of amputees experience phantom sensations in amputated body parts.

This side effect is not imaginary. The brain’s map of the body becomes outdated after the amputation. The nerves left in the stump produce sensations that the brain wrongly associates with the missing limb.

Recovering Personal Injury Compensation After an Amputation in Florida

Amputees can seek compensation for injuries caused by someone else’s negligent or wrongful conduct. After successfully proving liability, you can recover compensation for economic and non-economic losses arising from your amputation.

Economic damages include financial costs such as medical expenses and lost income. Non-economic damages include the reduction in your quality of life due to the loss of your body part. You will have significant economic and non-economic losses after an amputation.

An amputation permanently changes you. You face disabilities, dismemberment, and disfigurement that could require costly treatment and diminish your ability to earn a living. Contact Kibbey Wagner Injury & Car Accident Lawyers Stuart at (772) 444-7000 or contact us online today for a free consultation to discuss your amputation injury and how we can help you recover fair compensation.