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Amputations

Bikelawyer has a strong expertise in claims involving amputee clients. This is a very specialised area of law and one best dealt with by experienced experts.The following is a guide for Claimants who have sustained amputations.
 
Initial thoughts and feelings
 
The loss of a limb is a traumatic experience and it is an emotionally difficult time. The following reactions are frequently experienced: anger, frustration, depression (sometimes to the point of feeling suicidal), denial, grief, sadness, anxiety and self-pity.
 
Phantom Limb syndrome
 
One of the most common complications to affect people after amputation is phantom limb pain. This is when a person experiences sensations of pain that seem to be coming from the limb that has been amputated. It is estimated that 50-80% of people develop phantom limb pain after an amputation. Sometimes the sensation is so strong that a person may attempt to stand on the amputated side. This can obviously lead to a fall and further injury being sustained.
 
The term 'phantom' does not mean that the symptoms of pain are imaginary and all in your head. Phantom limb pain is a very real phenomenon which has been confirmed using brain imaging scans to study how nerve signals are transmitted to the brain.
 
The symptoms of phantom limb pain can range from mild to severe. Some people have described brief 'flashes' of mild pain, similar to an electric shock, that last for a few seconds. Other people have described constant severe pain.
 
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) can help. This involves using a small electric device that is connected to a series of electrodes. The electrodes deliver small electrical impulses to the site of your stump. There are also drugs that can help although they do often have side effects.
 
Psychological impact of amputation
 
Having an amputation can have an intense psychological impact for three main reasons:
 

  • You have to cope with the loss of sensation from your amputated limb.
  • You have to cope with the loss of function from your amputated limb.
  • Your sense of body image, and other people's perception of your body image, has changed.


 Counselling can help and NHS Artificial Limb Centres provide free counselling sessions. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) can also help.
 
Rehabilitation Stages
 
The following are the usual stages in the rehabilitation process:

  1. Physiotherapy and exercise in order to strengthen and provide independence, in addition to instruction on wheelchair use and transferring safely form, for example, from a wheelchair to bed or toilet.
  2. This is following discharge from hospital, when the wound is healing but still swollen. The stump will not yet be ready for having a cast or for measurements to be taken for the prosthetic (artificial) limb. The level of exercise will be increased and use of a Pneumatic Post Amputation Mobility (PPAM) Aid which is an inflatable leg which is placed over the stump to enable walking between parallel bars. This facilitates becoming re-accustomed to being upright again and weight bearing on the amputated side.  It also has the benefit of reducing swelling.
  3. Prosthetics. A cast and measurements will be taken and advice provided on the suitability of artificial limbs and their use. Intermittent reviews by the prosthetist will enable any required adjustments to be made to the prosthesis.

At Bikelawyer we work closely with leading Prosthetic and Rehabilitation teams. We are able to claim for the private costs of prosthetic limbs suited to the needs of the client, for example a “wet” leg for swimming, a “summer” leg which is darker so that the difference between limbs is less noticeable, legs adapted for specific purposes, for example motorcycle racing. The exact needs will be discussed in detail so that the client’s individual circumstances are catered for.

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