Losing an arm or a leg can be one of the more frightening outcomes of a serious accident. Nonetheless, doctors may feel that there is no choice but to remove a damaged limb in order to save the life of a patient. Whether due to a workplace accident, an automobile wreck or a personal accident, some people face this unfortunate reality.

According to Columbia University, more than 185,000 amputations occur each year, with about two million Americans living with the loss of one of their limbs. Even after a person undergoes amputation, there is often a long road ahead to recovery and attaining a new quality of life.

Why do some people need amputations?

A variety of reasons may cause someone to undergo an amputation. Common rationales generally involve a serious medical problem or an injury. Patients afflicted with cancer may lose a limb in order to get rid of a tumor in a bone or muscle. Some people suffer from diseases or conditions that eventually necessitate amputation, like diabetes, a bone infection, a blood clot or a blood vessel disease.

Overall, 82% of amputations happen because of vascular disease. However, the most common reason for someone to lose one of the upper limbs like a finger, a hand or an arm is due to a traumatic event like an auto accident. In fact, 75% of upper extremity amputations occur because of trauma.

How long does amputation recovery take?

According to WebMD, the amount of time it takes to recover from amputation varies. The wound created from removing a limb may take about four to eight weeks to heal, though medical complications may prolong the healing. A person recovering under ideal conditions may start practicing with an artificial limb 10 to 14 days following the surgery.

What does rehabilitation after amputation involve?

Since amputation permanently changes a person, adjusting to the reality of a lost limb may take a long time. Patients may use exercise to help their muscle strength and improve their overall health. Amputation may also cause emotional distress, necessitating the help of counselors and family members to restore a health self-image. Some activities that help promote self independence may assist in this regard.