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The psychological impact of amputation

California residents who have undergone an amputation after a severe accident may cope with the loss in many ways. An amputation is a life-changing event that can lead to short- or long-term psychological issues. Everyone who has had an amputation will have to learn to adapt to the change, both physically and mentally.

Unexpected amputation after an accident

When an amputation is due to a catastrophic accident, the amputee does not have time to prepare. The individual will likely go through all the classic stages of grief, just like people do when a loved one suddenly dies. The loss of a limb can be so traumatic that some amputees experience phantom pain in their lost limbs. Post-traumatic stress that follows an amputation can sometimes be accompanied by psychotic episodes.

Adapting to the loss

People will go through a range of emotions after an amputation, and some individuals will adapt to the change better than others. A person’s ability to successfully adapt can have a lot to do with his or her attitude about his or her experiences and personality. If a person is angry with the doctors for the amputation or depressed about his or her new physical appearance, mental recovery from the accident could take longer.

People that are having trouble coping with the loss of a limb may develop some maladaptive behaviors, including:

  • Overcompensation. The person becomes overly concerned with just one aspect of self-care or completely refuses any help from others.
  • Surrender. The individual neglects rehabilitation and continues to seek a high level of care from other people.
  • Avoidance. The person stops interacting socially or self-medicates with drugs and alcohol.

Overcoming negative feelings

People can learn to cope with catastrophic injuries, like the loss of a limb, through a combination of support and self-care. It is important for an accident victim to receive the help and support that he or she needs to overcome physical obstacles while he or she grieves his or her loss. At the same time, an amputee will benefit greatly by learning to use prosthetics so that they can become self-sufficient.

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