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What's your opinion of the "S-Word"?

Posted by Bryan Potok on

 Some say it's just a word. Other people say whether to use it or not is up to the individual.

"People who hate the word 'stub' for their amputated limb fret no more. Call it your PAL (post amputated limb)," proclaimed the Amputee Coalition on their Facebook page.

Amps weighed in with a bunch of alternatives: they say "residual limb," "short leg," just "leg," " Nubby," even "Rita," as one of the commenters calls her arm.

Residual limb is such a mouth full.  Why can’t we simply refer to a leg as a leg and an arm as an arm? I could never understand how some health care professionals would refer to a person’s leg as a stump.  My third day at my first job as a Prosthetist, while in the hospital a man exclaimed to his doctor “…stumps are on trees, sir”.

Some people are offended by the use of the "S-Word" to describe what remains after amputation. But others, I've noticed, prefer to say it outright.  There's even a support group called Stumps R’ Us and they publish an online magazine called Gimpy.

What is it about the word that's so divisive? On this site we hardly ever use it -- to us it just sounds a little abrasive. We only use it when a manufacturer adds it to their product name. We'd like to normalize the shopping experience, and a leg that ends above or below the knee is still a leg!  But we get that making the distinction can be useful, and we aren't going to tell you how to label yourself. 

As one Facebook commenter wrote: "Call it what you want.  We have earned the right to call it anything we desire without prejudice."

What words do you use to refer to your “short limb”?

Did you land on this page because you googled "stump"?


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2 comments


  • You can call it what ever you want, just make the Prosthetic/Socket comfortable so it doesn’t hinder my everyday activity.

    Steve on

  • I call it the little guy ?

    Robert on

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