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The emotional impact of losing a limb in a personal injury accident

| Jan 11, 2015 | Personal Injury

An injury accident that causes an individual to lose a limb typically has a lasting impact on the quality of life. The physical consequences often cause permanent disability, even when a prosthesis provides mobility. The suffering from this type of traumatic event is not only physical, but emotional, as well. Illinois personal injury lawyers are aware of how common it is for a person to experience anxiety or depression after the amputation. Formerly enjoyable activities often become difficult or impossible, leading to frustration and anger.

Stages of grief

According to the Amputee Coalition, amputees often undergo the five stages of grief described by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, MD. However, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance may not follow that particular order for an individual, and some stages may be felt with less intensity, or be absent altogether. Illinois personal injury lawyers understand that every individual who suffers a loss of limb experiences the cycle of grief in a different way.

During the phase of denial, individuals may withdraw or isolate themselves. Others react with anger, feeling that the situation is impossible to recover from, or that it should never have happened. They may attempt to bargain in hopes of becoming whole again, or feel depressed and give up. Hopelessness and suicidal thoughts are often barriers during rehabilitation. When acceptance comes, a victim realizes that the situation is permanent and begins to deal with the loss and recover in a healthy and proactive way.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

A personal injury accident that causes intense feelings of fear, defenselessness or horror often leads to reactions such as anger or shock, according to WebMD. Many people find that these feelings diminish over time. When a person develops post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the negative feelings continue longer than one month, increasing until they prevent the individual from living a normal life or recovering from the trauma.

A study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health evaluated the psychological state of many patients who underwent traumatic amputations. More than 75 percent of the amputees required psychiatric treatment for chronic and delayed PTSD six months or more after the amputation.

Illinois personal injury lawyers understand that there is no substitute for the loss of a limb. The cost of surgeries, hospital stays, rehabilitation, therapy and prosthetics often add more stress and prevent emotional recovery. If another party is at fault in the accident that led to the amputation, there may be compensation available to prevent financial devastation and provide restitution for the long-term pain and suffering caused.