|Sgt. Jerrod Fields, an athlete and amputee|
Amputation is the removal of a limb by trauma, medical illness, or surgery. As a surgical measure, it is used to control pain or a disease process in the affected limb, such as malignancy or gangrene. In some cases, it is carried out on individuals as a preventive surgery for such problems.
In some countries, amputation of the hands, feet or other body parts is or was used as a form of punishment for people who committed crimes. Amputation has also been used as a tactic in war and acts of terrorism; it may also occur as a war injury. In some cultures and religions, minor amputations or mutilations are considered a ritual accomplishment.
In the US, the majority of new amputations occur due to complications of the vascular system (the blood vessels), especially from diabetes.
Between 1988 and 1996, there were an average of 133,735 hospital discharges for amputation per year in the US. In 2005, just in the US, there were 1.6 million amputees. In 2013, the US has 2.1 million amputees. Approximately 185,000 amputations occur in the United States each year. In 2009, hospital costs associated with amputation totaled more than $8.3 billion.
A large proportion of amputees (50–80%) experience the phenomenon of phantom limbs; they feel body parts that are no longer there. These limbs can itch, ache, burn, feel tense, dry or wet, locked in or trapped or they can feel as if they are moving. Some scientists believe it has to do with a kind of neural map that the brain has of the body, which sends information to the rest of the brain about limbs regardless of their existence.
Due to technological advances in prosthetic's, many amputees live active lives with little restriction. Organizations such as the Challenged Athletes Foundation have been developed to give amputees the opportunity to be involved in athletics and adaptive sports such as Amputee Soccer.
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Amputee veterans of World War II in Germany 1946
Amputation Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.