Compensation is only one aspect of claim for a loss of a limb or limbs. Early focus for families and my clients will obviously be on ensuring the amputee receives early rehabilitation to maximise their recovery. When talking with families I never lose sight of the purpose of the personal injury claims process which is to put the amputee back into the same position, as he or she would have been in, had the accident not occurred insofar as money can achieve that objective.
Losing a limb
Amputation is the loss of a limb. Limbs can be amputated as a result of an accident, illness, or to treat a serious problem in the limb.
Surgical amputation is often regarded as the last resort after attempts to salvage the limb have failed.
Why is amputation required?
There can be a number of reasons why an individual may require an amputation but the main causes are:
- As a result of a serious road traffic accident, accident at work or following a trip or slip.
- Inadequate blood supply to the limb
- To remove a tumour
- Due to severe infection
- Due to severe pain and deformity or ulceration of the effected limb eg leg
- Due to medical negligence.
Types of amputation
It is very important to ensure that the limb is amputated at a level where there is good blood supply, no infection and no tumour. Your surgeon will also give consideration for the amputation being at the right level to ensure that if you use a prosthesis (a device which replaces a missing body part) it will fit properly.
The most common places for amputation are:
1. Lower limbs which can take various forms :
- Transfemoral – above knee amputation
- Transtibial – at the knee
- Knee disarticulation – where the amputation is performed through the middle of the knee joint.
- Double lower amputation – where both legs are amputated, often below the knee
- Hip disarticulation – where the amputation takes place through the hip joint, removing the whole leg
- Hemipelvectomy – where the entire leg and part of the pelvis are amputated
- Lower digit amputation – where one or more of the toes are amputated
2. Upper limb amputations can include the following:
- Shoulder disarticulation – where the amputation occurs through the shoulder joint, removing the entire arm
- Double upper arm amputations – where both hands and part of the arms are amputated
- Transhumeral – where the hand and a section of the arm are amputated above the elbow
- Transradial – where the hand and part of the arm are amputated below the elbow
- Elbow disarticulation – where the amputation occurs through the elbow joint, removing the hand, wrist and forearm
- Wrist disarticulation – where the amputation occurs through the wrist joint, removing the hand
- Hand amputation
- Upper digit amputation – where the thumb or one or more of the fingers are amputated.
Often as a result of tumours an individual may require tongue, breast, genital, ears, nose amputations.
Effects of Amputation
We are unique – no two individuals are the same and therefore everyone’s journey following amputation will be different. The sense of loss is immense and adjusting to amputation means the family, friends and the amputee have to deal with a whole host of emotions.
Most amputees will experience at some point during their journey the following symptoms:
- Psychological/emotional turmoil. This can include PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder); anxiety; depression; anger and may develop a negative body image.
- Pain which may take the form of phantom limb pain and sensation. Amputees often experience a sharp, stabbing pain in the absent limb.
- There will be a reduction in mobility and dexterity
- Increased risk of infection to the tissue and the bone so it is important to keep the stump (residual limb) in good health
- For smokers – you will be advised to stop, especially if your amputation was as a result of poor blood supply.
Making a personal injury claim
If your amputation is a result of someone else’s fault you may be entitled to bring a personal injury claim. Through the claims process we will ask the defendant to invoke the Rehabilitation Code. In addition, appointing an experienced Case Manager who can help with assessing your needs, identifying, planning and implementing the care and rehabilitation therapies will enable you to regain as much independence as possible to improve your quality of life is a critical step.
Throughout the process we ensure the right rehabilitation is received and, that means having access to the latest developments in prosthetics. We encourage our clients to trial various prosthetics and my approach is multi-disciplinary working closely with a highly experience therapists and clinicians.
The latest prosthetics and surgical developments
Developments in prosthetics have led to the availability of multiple limbs and associated equipment, for:
- Daily use.
- Water based activities.
- Recreational e.g. skiing, surfing, and even extreme sports.
- Cosmetic coverage with remarkable advances.
- Specialised purposes e.g. prosthetics for work.
Further surgical advances have led to the availability of advanced surgical techniques such as Osseointegration and the Intraosseous Transcutaneous Amputation Prosthesis. These techniques are extremely expensive but, if the medico legal expert appointed takes the view the procedure and the prosthetics would be of beneficial value we will put forward a claim for the costs involved.
I always work to ensure the compensation you receive will help make life easier enabling independence to be regained.
The compensation l gain for my clients goes towards:
- Adaptions for the home or arranging the purchase of an alternative suitable property
- Implementing a care package with case management
- Provide funding for various therapies, aids and equipment
- Purchasing better quality limbs
- Providing better suited transport/wheelchairs
- Assisting with holidays and recreational activities
- The funding of re-training and vocational rehabilitation to help with a return to employment.