Traumatic Amputations and Psychological Distress

By Matt Lalande in Personal Injury on October 24, 2019

Traumatic Amputations and Psychological Distress

Traumatic Amputations, Emotional Reactions and Psychological Distress

Traumatic amputations remain one of the most emotionally disturbing wounds that an accident victim can endure.  The irrevocable loss of one’s body part is catastrophically devastating and can no doubt provoke feelings of helplessness, horror, fear, PTSD and other psychological issues.  An individual who has undergone a traumatic amputation may also lose their sense of self-worth, relationships, career aspects, sexuality, and general function, all while also experiencing body issues and self-esteem issues.  As a result, many amputees become increasingly physically and emotionally distressed, which can render that individual vulnerable to eventual psychiatric disorder and mental illness.

The Impact of Psychological Distress For Amputees

There’s no doubt that a substantial proportion of amputees suffer alarming symptoms of depression, anxiety suicidal ideation, and PTSD. Many accident victims who lose a limb as a result of traumatic or surgical procedures encounter a series of complex psychological responses.

After learning that amputation may be required, accident victims often suffer anxiety which often alternates with depression. Studies have shows that anxiety and depression can affect up to 63% of amputees. This anxiety may be generalized or result in disturbed sleep and irritability. Unsurprisingly, anxiety may be concerned about the fate of the limb that will be amputated, losing a part of your body, as well as about the prospect of possible phantom limb pain, which many amputees may be familiar with. Anxiety and fear concerning the perceived negative attitudes of others toward people with disabilities may also be present. Individuals may suffer serious feelings of loss, self-stigma, and difficulty in coping up with the impairment.  Even worse, when a person suffers a sudden traumatic amputation caused in an accident which renders them unconcious, there is often little or no time to process feelings of fear and anxiety or to experience more than a few hours of semi-conscious dreadful awareness before the anesthesia, surgery, and awakening to a new life as an amputee.

PTSD is rare among amputees whose surgery follows a chronic illness, however a study published in the Industrial Psychology Journal found that  up to 84% of amputees suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a sudden and traumatic amputation in accidents. Many victims of car accidents also suffer from PTSD and have difficulty re-adjusting to driving or being in a vehicle.  In fact, PTSD and chronic psychological distress are often associated with amputations secondary to traumatic amputations following accidents.

Individuals who have had traumatic limb amputation often face difficulty when taking care of themselves and find themselves in a new position where they are unable to care for their families as well. This can lead to low self-worth, in addition to frustration and general difficulty in coping with the new situation or lifestyle changes.

Some studies have also shown that the rate of psychological distress and mental illness is directly correlated with the body part that is amputated. If the amputation is done on a body party that is more valuable to the individual, they are more likely to suffer higher rates of psychological distress as well as phantom limb pain.

Amputations and Phantom Limb Phenomena

It is common for individuals with amputations to suffer from phantom limb pain. This occurs when the individual feels pain in the limb that has been amputated, despite the fact that it is no longer there. While the most common areas to feel phantom limb pain are the legs and arms, this phenomenon could happen anywhere where a body part has been removed.  The pain caused by a phantom limb can range from a mild, sporadic tingle to a severe and unbearable burning pain or shock. In some cases, phantom pain can actually become so painful that it mimics the pain of the injury that led to the amputation.

Phantom limb pain is often associated with psychological distress. It occurs as a direct result of the individual being overwhelmed with emotions, feelings of helplessness, and other types of mental strain. The body’s pain receptors are directly connected to cognitive activity in the brain, and the lost signals from no longer having that limb can cause conflict or re-wiring that is escalated when emotional distress occurs.

Therefore, individuals who are already undergoing significant psychological stress due to their amputation are also often subjected to phantom limb pain. As a result, the individual experiences prolonged pain and suffering in addition to adjustment to their newfound position.

A Hamilton Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You

Individuals who have undergone a traumatic limb amputation may also experience post-amputation disability due the physical and psychological impairments they have developed. It is important to understand your rights and the options available to you if you have suffered from a limb amputation as the result of an accident. You should not have to suffer the rest of your life in financial debt and psychological burden because someone else was negligent.  You or your loved one may be left in a situation of financial despair if the accident victim that suffered the amputation can no longer work and provide into shared family expenses. There may also be home modifications and vehicle modifications, future care costs, PSW costs, transportation costs, wheelchair costs including maintenance and replacement, ongoing occupational therapy, rehabilitation therapy and psychological therapy required for life.  In addition, other devices such as well-fitting prosthetics are often required in order to assist with the recovery of function following a traumatic amputation.

Our Hamilton personal injury lawyers can assist you as you adjust to this difficult and unexpected situation. Matt Lalande has been serving amputation claimants since 2003.  He understands that the loss of a limb or body part can no doubt have devastating effects on victims and their families. . The experienced legal team at Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers in Hamilton understand the unique challenges victims of amputation and trauma face. Our Hamilton Personal Injury Lawyers can take care of the entire insurance claims process so that you can focus on your medical needs.  We offer free consultations with no up-front fees, and can travel to you if you are incapable of traveling to our offices. Call our Hamilton personal injury lawyers at 905-333-8888 or submit a contact form through our website, and we will respond to your inquiry without delay.




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