Prosthetic Categories

The Impact of Microaggression on Limb Loss Healthcare

    The unfortunate reality is that many amputees experience microaggressions in the healthcare industry, and this can create a hostile environment and undermine their sense of dignity and worth.


    Microaggressions happen more often in limb loss healthcare than we think.

    These microaggressions can take many forms, from subtle invalidations and insults to more overt discrimination and prejudice. It can be related to various aspects, such as appearance, ethnicity, gender, and language, and they can also extend to one’s physical abilities.

    In this article, we will explore the impact of microaggressions on amputee healthcare and provide examples of how they manifest in the healthcare setting. We hope this information will help you or your loved ones recognize and respond to microaggressions.


    Microinsults are comments that can be hurtful and disrespectful to a person’s identity, whether they are made intentionally or unconsciously.

    For instance, if a healthcare provider expresses surprise or disbelief when you share your goals or aspirations, such as pursuing a certain career or returning to a favorite sport, it can make you feel like they don’t believe in your abilities or potential. This can be demoralizing and discouraging.

    Microinsults can also occur through subtle actions, such as offering unsolicited assistance or assuming that you need help with tasks that you can manage on your own. These actions can be frustrating and make you feel like your sense of independence and competence is undermined.


    Microassaults are a type of microaggression that can be intentional and cause harm. They can be subtle or overt but are usually a form of discrimination or prejudice.

    For instance, if you have specific needs or preferences related to your amputation, you may request certain prosthetic devices or therapies that align with your goals and needs. However, if your healthcare provider dismisses your request without considering it seriously or offers a less suitable alternative without explanation, it can be viewed as a microassault.

    This type of behavior can undermine your autonomy and right to participate in decisions about your own healthcare, leading to feelings of frustration, disempowerment, and mistrust toward the healthcare system.

    Another example of a microassault is when someone uses derogatory language or makes insensitive jokes about your amputation, either directly to you or in your presence. This behavior is not only disrespectful and hurtful, but it also perpetuates stigma and discrimination against individuals with disabilities. 


    Microinvalidations refer to comments or conversations that ignore or invalidate your experiences and identity as a person with disability. Unfortunately, this type of microaggression is quite common in the healthcare world.

    For instance, you might encounter a healthcare provider who dismisses or ignores your challenges or experiences. This can be incredibly frustrating and invalidating.

    For example, if you express sadness or frustration about the loss of your limb, and your provider responds with statements like, “You should just be grateful to be alive,” or “It’s not as bad as it seems,” it can make you feel like your emotions and concerns are not being acknowledged or taken seriously.

    Similarly, if your provider downplays the impact of societal attitudes or barriers on your ability to fully participate in activities or access resources, it can invalidate your experiences of discrimination and marginalization.

    For example, if you express frustration about being denied employment opportunities due to your amputation, and your provider responds with, “You’re probably just overreacting,” it dismisses the reality of systemic barriers faced by individuals with disabilities and reinforces a sense of invisibility or insignificance.

    Microinvalidations can also occur through subtle actions, such as interrupting or talking over you when you try to discuss your experiences or needs. These actions can convey that your voice and perspective are not valued or respected.

    How microaggressions affect you  

    Some people would choose to ignore microaggressions and shrug them off. However, microaggressions can have a profound negative impact on your health, as it can increase levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and overall psychological distress. These experiences can contribute to feelings of invalidation, marginalization, and diminished self-worth, which can harm your well-being.

    Moreover, microaggressions can hinder effective communication and collaboration between you and your healthcare provider. If you feel misunderstood or belittled, you may be less likely to disclose important information about your health status, concerns, or treatment preferences. This can compromise the quality of care you receive and ultimately impact your health outcomes.

    Negative experiences of microaggressions can also impact your willingness to engage in healthcare services and adhere to treatment recommendations. If you feel disrespected or devalued by your healthcare providers, you may be less motivated to follow through with prescribed treatments, attend appointments, or seek out necessary medical care. This can lead to poorer health outcomes and a potential worsening of your condition.

    Responding to microaggressions  

    It's essential to recognize that unchecked microaggressions can contribute to inequalities in healthcare access and outcomes. Unfortunately, biased attitudes or discriminatory behaviors by healthcare providers can result in unequal treatment and worsen existing inequalities based on factors such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or other identities.

    If you ever encounter microaggressions, it's best to respond calmly and let the other person know what they did. Remember that sometimes people may commit microaggressions out of ignorance rather than malice, so take the opportunity to educate them about your experiences and how their words or actions can be hurtful.

    It's also important to assert yourself calmly but firmly. Let the person know that their comment or behavior is inappropriate and explain why. In some cases, using humor can help disarm a situation and educate others about microaggressions. You can respond with a witty comment that highlights the absurdity of the microaggression. 

    Setting boundaries is crucial. Let people know what kind of language or behavior is acceptable to you and establish boundaries to prevent future microaggressions.

    Lastly, you can advocate for change. If you encounter systemic issues or discrimination in healthcare settings, consider advocating for change. It could involve raising awareness, working with advocacy groups, or sharing your stories.

    Remember that you have the right to be treated with respect and dignity in healthcare settings. Don't hesitate to speak up if you encounter microaggressions; know you're not alone.