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Absent limb/reduced limb function

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A person can be born without limbs due to a Birth Defect, or they can lose their limbs as a result of an injury or accident, or though amputation because of a diseases like sugar diabetes, cancerous Tumor or inadequate blood flow. This is refered to as "Upper and lower limb reduction." These defects occur when a part of or the entire arm (upper limb) or leg (lower limb) of a fetus fails to form completely during pregnancy. It is refered to this because a limb is reduced from its normal size or is missing.

Birth Defect


The cause of limb reduction defects is unknown. However, research has shown that certain behaviors or exposures during pregnancy can increase the risk of having a baby with a limb reduction defect.

These include:

  • Exposure of the mother to certain chemicals or viruses while she is pregnant
  • Exposure of the mother to certain medications
  • Possible exposure of the mother to tobacco smoking (although more research is needed)

CDC works with many researchers to study risk factors that can increase the chance of having a baby with limb reduction defects, as well as outcomes of babies with the defect. Following are examples of what this research has found:

  • A woman taking multivitamins before she gets pregnant might decrease her risk for having a baby with limb reduction defects, although more research is needed.
  • Certain sets of limb reduction defects might be associated with other birth defects, such as heart defects, omphalocele, and gastroschisis.

Problems that children with limb reduction defects have

Babies and children with limb reduction defects will face various issues and difficulties, but the extent of these will depend on the location and size of the reduction. Some potential difficulties and problems include:

  • Difficulties with normal development such as motor skills
  • Needing assistance with daily activities such as self-care
  • Limitations with certain movements, sports, or activities
  • Potential emotional and social issues because of physical appearance


Specific treatment for limb reduction defects will be determined by the child's doctor, based on things like the child’s age, the extent and type of defect, and the child’s tolerance for certain medications, procedures, and therapies.

The overall goal for treatment of limb reduction defects is to provide the child with a limb that has proper function and appearance. Treatment can vary for each child. Potential treatments include:

  • Prosthetics (artificial limbs)
  • Orthotics (splints or braces)
  • Surgery
  • Rehabilitation (physical or occupational therapy)

It is important to remember that some babies and children with limb reductions will have some difficulties and limitations throughout life, but with proper treatment and care they can live long, healthy, and productive lives.

Can these defects be prevented?

There is no known way to prevent this type of defect, but some of the problems experienced later in life by a person born with a limb reduction defect can be prevented or screened if the defect is treated early.

Even so, mothers can take steps before and during pregnancy to have a healthy pregnancy. Steps include taking a daily multivitamin with folic acid (400 micrograms), not smoking, and not drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

Loss of Limbs through Accidents

Amputation occurs when any limb or piece of the body is severed. An amputation can be partial or total. There are two types of amputation:  unintentional amputation arising out of a trauma to one or more limbs and intentional surgical amputation.

Unintentional amputations also called Traumatic Amputations is the Loss of Limbs through Accidents & can happen during some serious accidents, where a person's body part may be literally torn off & this is classed as being an amputation caused by trauma. 

CausesBethany Hamilton (Professional Surfer - Lost arm through shark attack)

Accidents which sometimes lead to this type of amputation include:

  • Road Accidents and in particular, motorcycle accidents, cycle accidents and accidents involving pedestrians.
  • Accidents at work, particularly those involving dangerous machinery.
  • Severe injury (from a vehicle accident or serious burn, for example)
  • Frostbite, caused by extreme cold.
  • Attack by people animals like Sharks, etc.

The tangible economic damages associated with amputation include medical bills, prosthetic limbs, physical therapy and rehabilitation, lost income, and lost earning capacity. An accident victim’s family members may also suffer certain damages in that they can no longer rely on a severely injured person to perform household chores or even perform basic tasks.

Liability for Amputation Injuries

Workplace accidents in factories and manufacturing plants or road accidents can give rise to amputation injuries. Compensation is the only available remedy against an employer if you suffer a loss of limb at work. If an unintentional amputation is caused by someone else’s negligence outside the workplace, however, that person can be sued for compensatory damages. For example, a truck accident can result in the loss of a limb. So can a defectively designed product.

In a product liability case, the defendant also can be sued under theories of both strict liability and negligence. Table saw injuries, for example, may result in a loss of limb. The person using the table saw may amputate a finger or other body part. In some cases, the amputation could have been prevented if the product manufacturer had added a safety device to the product, such as flesh-detection technology. Failure to add safety devices to their saws at a feasible cost constitutes a design defect, sometimes allowing people who have lost limbs to recover damages from the manufacturer.

After amputation, they individual may experience significant phantom limb pain as well as debilitating psychological distress. A person who suffers an amputation often has to adjust to a whole new life and relearn basic skills, such as eating, using the bathroom, and walking. Advances in prosthetics can assist an individual to become mobile again.


Amputation  is the surgical removal of all or part of a limb such as an arm, leg, foot, hand, toe, or finger. There are many reasons an amputation may be necessary. The most common is poor circulation because of damage or narrowing of the arteries, called peripheral arterial disease. Without adequate blood flow, the body's cells cannot get oxygen and nutrients they need from the bloodstream. As a result, the affected tissue begins to die and infection may set in.

Other reasons for amputation may include:

  • Cancerous tumor in the bone or muscle of the limb
  • Serious infection that does not get better with antibiotics or other treatment
  • Thickening of nerve tissue, called a Neuroma.
  • Sugar Diabetes can cause blood sugar levels to stay high, the nerve cells swell and scar. After a while, the nerves can't send messages to the legs and feet the way they should, this causes the skin to die.
  • Pneumococcal Meningitis causes over 20% of its patients to die & 50% suffered from long term complications which include limb amputation. Meningitis can cause Sepsis, which usually begins as Patikia rash, which will gradually result in limb amputation or even death eventually.
  • Frostbite

The Amputation Procedure 

An amputation usually requires a hospital stay of five to 14 days or more, depending on the surgery & complications. The procedure itself may vary, depending on the limb or extremity being amputated and the patient's general health.

Amputation may be done under general anesthesia (meaning the patient is asleep) or with spinal anesthesia, which numbs the body from the waist down.

When performing an amputation, the surgeon:

  • removes all damaged tissue while leaving as much healthy tissue as possible, this includes removing the diseased tissue & any crushed bone,
  • Then smoothes uneven areas of bone,
  • Then seals off blood vessels and nerves
  • Then cuts and shapes muscles so that the stump, or end of the limb, will be able to have an artificial limb (prosthesis) attached to it.

This procedure is done to help improve healing & eventual rehabilitation. In many cases a person can be rehabilitated to lead a normal life.


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