Every April, we support Limb Loss Awareness Month (LLAM), and we are still going to do so this year with a few modifications. Although every single offline gathering has been canceled, we can still gather online to spread awareness and give encouragement to those who need it.
Why limb loss awareness matters
Every year, limb loss is becoming more prevalent. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that around 2.1 million people are living with limb loss. If current trends continue—approximately 185,000 people have amputations every year—there will be an estimated 3.6 million amputees by 2050.
Currently, significant advances in prosthetic care help ease the burden of those who have lost a limb and those who were born with a limb difference. Because of these improvements, amputees can continue to lead fulfilling lives. Not to mention, many adaptive athletes can perform better than "able-bodied" athletes. However, not everyone living with limb loss has access to decent prosthetic care and the latest technology.
Challenges in getting prosthetic care
Most amputees still face discouraging obstacles when trying to obtain prosthetic care. And those who are unable to afford prostheses are at risk for secondary conditions, which tend to be dangerous and costly.
Obstacles include changes in insurance coverage for prostheses, which threaten their ability to care for their families and lead lives that contribute to society. Some insurance companies impose unrealistic limits, such as a $2,500 limit per lifetime or only one artificial limb per lifetime. Meanwhile, other insurers eliminate coverage for orthotic and prosthetic care.
How to celebrate LLAM 2020
There are many ways for you to help raise awareness of the reality of people living with limb loss.
One, you can share facts about limb loss on social media. Not everyone will know someone who is an amputee, which is why life with limb loss is unimaginable for many. However, out of the estimated 2.1 million amputees in the U.S., 54% lost their limbs due to vascular disease, including peripheral arterial disease and diabetes. Meanwhile, 45% lost their limbs due to traumatic events, and less than 2% lost their limbs due to cancer.
Two, we encourage you to inspire and motivate others by sharing your story of living well with limb loss. If you know someone else who’s living well with limb loss, ask for their permission to share their stories. You can also post photos of you or your loved one wearing prosthetic or assistive devices. This helps paint a better picture of what life is like for many amputees.
Three, if you have an existing amputee support group, we highly encourage setting up a group video call in place of your usual face-to-face meeting. This way, you can still get the same emotional support while following social distancing measures.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, we are going to mark Limb Loss Awareness Month because it provides the perfect opportunity to tell everyone what it’s like to live with limb loss—the struggles, opportunities, and victories. Most importantly, starting a discussion online can help other amputees arrive at self-acceptance and even break down barriers during this challenging time.How do you plan on celebrating Limb Loss Awareness Month this year? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.