What is an Amputation’s Impact on the Human Body?

Individuals can sustain various types of amputations. An amputation can mean losing a finger or toe or something more serious, like losing a foot, hand, arm, or leg. Here, we want to delve into the impact that an amputation can have on the human body. The long-term effects extend beyond simply having to readjust to a new lifestyle. Amputations can lead to other health consequences individuals may not be aware of. Speak with an amputation injury lawyer in Portland today regarding the details of your unique case.

What Factors Affect Amputation Victims and Their Recovery?

Information available from Healthline indicates that more than two million individuals are living with a lost limb across the United States, and around 500 individuals sustain an amputation injury each day. Those who survived an amputation could face a range of long-term health effects. There are various factors that must be taken into account when it comes to examining how an amputation will impact the human body. These factors include:

  • The location of the amputation
  • The overall condition of the remaining limb
  • Whether or not a prosthetic is viable
  • The age and health of the amputee
  • Other injuries sustained at the same time as the amputation
  • The victim’s living situation and familial support
  • The emotional and psychological condition of the amputee

How an Amputation Affects the Body

Amputations can range anywhere from relatively moderate (loss of digits or a partial amputation) to severe (the loss of an entire limb). The immediate effects of an amputation go beyond the inability to use a limb. Long-term effects can affect the entire body of the amputee.

  • Mobility and dexterity. The loss of a limb, whether that be the upper or lower extremities, can affect a person’s mobility. This is particularly true for lower limb amputations. However, upper limb amputations can also affect mobility because they can result in an unusual weight imbalance and lead to the individual becoming more prone to falls or collisions with other objects.
  • Stump or phantom limb pain. Individuals may experience pain in the stump area, or they could experience phantom limb pain, or even both. Stump pain is felt in the remaining part of the injured limb, but phantom limb pain is a more widespread condition that affects a significant number of amputees. This refers to sensations of pain the individual feels in the “missing limb.”
  • Infection. Individuals can experience an infection at the site of the amputation caused by the wound opening. These infections not only increase the risk of more severe infections throughout the body, but they can also make it impossible to use a prosthetic limb.
  • Muscle contractures. Anytime there is an imbalance of the muscles in a limb, this could lead to muscle contractures. Lower limb amputees are at a higher risk of muscle contractures because of the sudden alteration of their anatomy and central nervous system, as well as the weight imbalance placed on the remaining limb. 
  • Deep vein thrombosis. DVT is a blood clotting condition that usually affects the lower limbs, and those who have lost one or both of their lower limbs face a higher risk of experiencing this medical emergency. Left untreated, deep vein thrombosis could lead to a pulmonary embolism, which is where a blood clot breaks away from the affected area and travels to the lungs.
  • Emotional and psychological effects. Losing a limb is an incredibly difficult thing for a person to experience, and victims may experience significant emotional and psychological effects. This can include feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety, fear, and even symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).