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December 16th 2019

Rehabilitation

New support group means no amputee need cope alone after limb loss

Lauren Dale

Lauren Dale

Solicitor, Clinical Negligence

New support group means no amputee need cope alone after limb loss

As somebody fortunate enough not to have experienced losing a limb in my life, I can of course only try and imagine the impact of such a life-changing situation.

As somebody fortunate enough not to have experienced losing a limb in my life, I can of course only try and imagine the impact of such a life-changing situation.

I can’t begin to understand the feelings of denial, grief and anger experienced by people receiving the devastating news that they need an amputation, or that they have undergone one.

The reality is, losing a limb is something the majority of us don’t ever think about, and why would we?

Unless a devastating event happens which results in the loss of a limb for ourselves or someone we love, it is not something that would cross our minds.

However, whether it be the result of a trauma following an accident, a complication of diabetes or as a consequence of advanced sepsis, there are many reasons our limbs maybe compromised.

Of course, medical experts, professionals and friends can and will always offer reassurance to those affected.
But having supported people who have lost limbs in my work as a medical negligence specialist, I know it is meeting and speaking with others who have been there and experienced limb loss that really makes a huge difference.

Amputees I have met have often spoken of a sense of loneliness when they have lost one or more limbs.

Often family and close friends have no experience of limb loss, and the impact it has on people’s lives, not just physically but psychologically too.

People can be left feeling they are alone in the battle ahead, and feeling there is little understanding or support around them.

They need to speak to others who are in a similar situation, or have lived with limb loss, to give them reassurance that they are not alone, and that the physical and psychological emotions being experienced are entirely ‘normal’.

Community support is essential for amputees to adapt to life after limb loss

With growing numbers of amputees each year across the UK I have been delighted to support the Limbless Association, a national charity which provides a range of support and guidance to amputees and their families, reaching out into new communities.

I was first made aware of this charity when my uncle lost his leg after being diagnosed with a cancer in his thigh. Within three months of diagnosis he was preparing for a full leg amputation and my family’s world was turned upside down.

All of a sudden aspects of life which had been the norm became challenging, big changes needed to be made immediately and for the future, but where do people start when faced with this situation?

My uncle needed to rebuild his upper body strength to use his wheelchair, but didn’t know where to do this and which gym would be suitable and best placed to help. He faced many issues many others will have in the past, and will do in the future.

How do you go about having your bathroom made into a wet room, and can you continue doing the things you love – and previously found simple – after amputation.

For my uncle a concern was whether he could get a ticket for his carer to keep attending football matches!

These are all aspects a charity like the Limbless Association and their volunteers can help with, and for that reason I was delighted to be part of the Hudgell Solicitors team which attended the recent launch of its Hull and East Riding ‘Support and Connect Hub, at the Artificial Limb Centre, in Sykes Street, Hull.

I was blown away by the overwhelming support network offered through this charity by amputees and their relatives.
The local group will now meet on the second Tuesday of every month and provide an informal session for amputees to gain advice and support, meet with other amputees, to share their experiences and take part in therapeutic taster sessions, amongst other things.

Perhaps most importantly, it will provide an inclusive, positive and supportive environment for those who need it most. Despite the best efforts of the NHS, my experience tells me that there is a need for post discharge services, and this is what the charity offers.

Originally set up following the Second World War to support veterans who lost limbs in combat, the charity works with pre and post-surgical amputees to adapt to the life-changing event they are facing, allowing them to overcome all the challenges and learning curves they will face.

In a society where we attempt to be ‘disabled-friendly’ and not place anyone at a disadvantage as a result of a disability, I feel we are not quite there, but it is initiatives such as this – based in the heart of communities and bringing people together – which can make a huge difference.

Speaking with those in the same situation will hopefully reduce the anxieties and concerns and give amputees and their families the lives they crave after limb loss.

Find out more here 

 

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