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August 9, 2021

What Are the Psychological Effects of Amputation?

The loss of a limb can be a devastating experience that affects every aspect of a person’s life. While any amputation can cause a number of physical and emotional hardships, victims of traumatic amputations can experience higher levels of emotional suffering.

A traumatic amputation involves the sudden, unexpected loss of a limb in a traffic accident or other traumatic event. In these cases, the limb may be lost at the scene of the accident or later at the hospital in a surgical procedure.

The amputation injury lawyers at Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd. have seen the devastating impact amputations can have on the lives of accident survivors. For 45 years, our firm has stood by injury victims and held responsible parties accountable for their negligence.

The Psychological Effects of Amputation

The emotional and psychological effects of amputation can be considerable, not only for the injured parties, but also for their families, friends, and colleagues. The degree of emotional and psychological trauma an injury victim experiences can depend on a number of factors, including:

  • The type of amputation
  • The person’s pre-injury health
  • The person’s age
  • Whether a prosthetic limb can be used
  • The condition of the remaining limb
  • The person’s domestic situation

Every amputation is different, and every amputee’s path to recovery is unique. However, there are certain challenges that are commonly faced by those who have experienced an amputation, which are discussed below.

Traumatic Effects

After suffering a traumatic amputation, memories of the event can cause a person to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other similar psychological conditions. PTSD symptoms can include anger outbursts, isolation, insomnia, depression, nightmares, flashbacks, and other difficult behaviors.

In addition to PTSD, amputation victims also commonly deal with psychological issues such as:

  • Impulse control disorders
  • Panic disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression

Individuals who have experienced a traumatic amputation often feel the psychological and emotional impact of their experience more heavily than those who undergo planned amputations because they have not had time to prepare for the loss of a limb.

Body Image

The loss of a limb can cause an individual to suffer from body image problems, particularly about the appearance of the injured limb. This is often a difficult situation to adapt to.

Those who have lost a limb are often concerned with the way other people may react.

Sometimes, an amputee will consciously, or subconsciously, try to avoid drawing attention to their damaged limb by hiding it. 

Adapting to Amputation

While some of the challenges faced by amputees stem from the initial traumatic injury, other issues emerge gradually as people live with their disabilities. In some cases, an individual may struggle to adapt to the loss of sensation in a missing limb. Other times, an amputee may suffer from the psychological demands of living with chronic aches and pains.

Because of this, both in the early and later stages of living with an amputation, depression is a common consequence. Amputees often experience a feeling of loss regarding their removed limb, which some have compared to the feeling of bereavement that accompanies the death of a loved one.

Although many individuals describe the feeling of a downward spiral after the loss of a limb, professional assistance and support from friends and family can help amputees successfully navigate the stages of grief.

Social Impact

An amputation can impact someone’s ability to engage in the same hobbies, leisure pursuits, or social activities that they would have otherwise enjoyed. This could result from practical reasons, such as the inability to take part in physical activities the same way they once did. Side effects of medication and high levels of pain can also inhibit an individual’s ability or interest in participating in social endeavors.

When these issues arise, social withdrawal can occur and lead to feelings of isolation. The personal relationships of amputees can be significantly impacted. Someone with a missing limb may avoid contact with their friends and peers completely. An amputee may exhibit outbursts of anger toward those with whom he or she is in contact, even toward those who are providing care.

Contact an Amputation Injury Lawyer in Providence Today

The amputation injury lawyers at Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd are committed to assisting victims of traumatic amputations get their lives back on track. We are passionate about helping you pursue the justice and compensation you need to move forward.

See our results.

If you lost a limb due to someone’s negligence, call Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd today at (401) 273-8330 for a FREE, no-obligation consultation. We welcome clients from Providence and other areas throughout Rhode Island.