Limb Loss Awareness Month
In 2010 the Amputee Coalition set out to raise awareness for limb loss prevention and for individuals living with limb loss. Two years later, Barack Obama acknowledged his support of the coalition’s initiative, officially making April Limb Loss Awareness Month.
The Surprising Prevalence of Limb Loss
Limb loss may seem like it would be a rare occurrence, but it’s much more common than you may think. Every day, more than 500 amputations take place, and nearly two million Americans live with limb loss (Amputee Coalition).
The surprising prevalence of limb loss makes the month of April an important time for raising awareness, especially given the physical and mental obstacles that can come with limb loss.
The Causes of Limb Loss
Limb loss can occur for a number of reasons, but the most common include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Traumatic events
- Nerve injury (trophic ulceration)
- Congenital anomalies (birth anomalies)
Causes such as traumatic events, tumors, nerve injuries, and congenital anomalies cannot be prevented. But with a healthy lifestyle and proper precautions, cardiovascular disease – which happens to be the most common cause of limb loss at 54% – and even infections can often be prevented.
April is not only a time to raise awareness for limb loss itself but for limb loss prevention as well.
How to Reduce Your Chances for Cardiovascular Disease
The relation between amputations and vascular conditions such as peripheral artery disease (PAD) and diabetes may not be immediately apparent, but the two can often go hand-in-hand.
Aside from the inherent health drawbacks of cardiovascular disease, the impaired blood flow characteristic of vascular problems may also lead to gangrene and non-healing foot ulcers which can eventually require amputation (Azura).
But with a healthy and active lifestyle, you can significantly decrease your chances of developing vascular conditions that may lead to amputation.
Here are seven tips for maintaining a healthy heart:
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco
- Get at least 30-60 minutes of exercise daily
- Eat a heart-healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get plenty of high quality sleep
- Minimize stress
- Get regular health screenings
How to Reduce Your Chances of Infections
Trauma accounts for 45% of all amputations, and infections are often a contributing factor. With healthy practices, however, you can significantly reduce your chances of infection.
Here are six tips for preventing and treating infections:
- Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently
- Cover your coughs and sneezes
- Thoroughly wash and properly bandage all cuts
- Do not pick at wounds or blemishes
- Don’t share dishes, glasses, or eating utensils
- Avoid direct contact with napkins, tissues, and similar items used by others
If you are at risk of infection following a traumatic event, consult your doctor for treatment best-practices specific to your circumstances.
How You Can Support Limb Loss Awareness Month
There are numerous ways you can support Limb Loss Awareness Month. Visit the Amputee Coalition’s website to learn how to volunteer or donate.
You can also use the hashtags #LLAM or #LimbLossAwarenessMonth on social media to spread the word about limb loss awareness and prevention. And make sure to tag JP&O Prosthetics & Orthotics so we can help share your message!
JP&O is a prosthetic, orthotic, and pedorthic service provider based in Arkansas and Southern Missouri. Founded in 1989, JP&O has extensive experience in helping individuals rise above physical challenges through state-of-the-art equipment, compassionate service, and empowering support programs.
To learn more about us or to share your story, visit our website.