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Keeping It All in Perspective: The Global Disparity of Losing a Limb after an Accident

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The loss of a limb is a serious injury and can completely alter someone’s quality of life. If you’ve lost a leg or an arm in car crash, truck wreck, or some other major accident, the rehabilitation process can be extensive and you may have to re-train yourself on how to perform simple, everyday tasks.

But even with this hardship, keep in mind that the situation could be far worse, like if you suffered this injury in a developing country. Take Haiti, for instance. After the horrendous earthquake which killed an estimated 230,000 people, there were thousands more who lost a limb. Some of the emergency operations in the disaster were done in a way that failed to leave the victims with enough skin and muscle to have any real chance for successful future use of a prosthesis

Sadly, due to Haiti’s poor economy, people without a limb can’t find employment and are routinely forced to beg for money, according to the Associated Press. There’s also a terrible stigma in this country which views amputees as “less-than” and not capable of contributing to society.

“In Haiti, if you’re disabled you’re forgotten,” said Michel Pean, secretary of state for the integration of the disabled.

To make matters worse, many victims of a lost limb fail to get the injury treated properly leading to a serious infection and potentially death.

This information isn’t meant to denigrate your pain and suffering from a lost limb. The trauma associated with such an injury in the U.S. can be devastating, but we’re fortunate to have organizations like the Amputee Coalition of America and first-class technology that provides the opportunity to obtain an artificial limb. Obviously, it’ll never completely compensate for your lost limb, but it’s far better than what other people are struggling with in underdeveloped nations.

People who struggle with this type of major loss are heroes, and even in our country we all could stand to be more understanding and respectful of folks who are coping with this catastrophic type of harm

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.

PA

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  1. Anonymous says:
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    Your recent article is much appreciated. I have been an amputee six age 10 and recently lost more of my leg, becoming an above knee amputee 3 years ago. I was dismayed by the current state of affairs for US amputees. I am a research scientist and work for a state University. Our insurance is managed by a self-insured, state run plan. The state health policy authority refuses to cover anything other than a “basic” prosthesis.

    The contract language is abhorrent:

    “Coverage is limited to the basic (standard) appliance or device which will restore the body part or function. If you elect to purchase a prosthetic appliance or device with deluxe enhancements or features such as electronic components, microprocessors or other features designed to enhance performance, the Plan is only responsible for the amount that would have been allowed for a basic (standard) appliance. You will be responsible for paying the additional cost of the deluxe enhancements, electronic components, microprocessors, performance enhancements, comfort, convenience or luxury items.”

    There is nothing deluxe, luxurious, comfortable, performance enhancing or convenient about a prosthetic limb. Who determines whether a prosthesis is comfortable or convenient and thereby denied?

    The state doesn’t provide prosthetics on par with Medicare, Medicaid or the VA. If I were to quit working, go on disability, stop paying state taxes, stop raising grant money for the state and stop paying my insurance premiums, then state Medicaid would provide me with the prescribed limb.

    Sadly, this is how it is for many US amputees. The ACA is fighting for national prosthetic parity, but self-insured plans like mine will most likely be exempt.

    So, while there are technological advances that are far above the prosthetics of WWII, many US amputees cannot afford them and their insurance refuses to cover them. There is no doubt that things in Haiti are much worse, but for many US citizens, they’re not much better.