Amputee Tips

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I have an amputation—is there a sport I can compete in?

Amputation: Amputee Sports

There are many sports amputees can compete in. There are several organizations that put together sporting programs just for amputees, should a person with an amputation want to learn to compete in a sport. Sporting events include:

  • Amputee Soccer
  • Archery
  • Badminton
  • Cycling
  • Fencing
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Handcycling
  • Hockey – Sled Hockey
  • Hunting – Dove Hunting - Deer
  • Martial Arts
  • Mountain Biking
  • Orienteering
  • Sailing
  • Scuba Diving Shooting - Target
  • Shooting – Trap Skiing
  • Sky Diving Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Table Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Volleyball – Sitting Water Skiing
  • Windsurfing

Each sport has its own rules. For example, to play soccer, no prosthesis are allowed. Players use metal crutches. If there are not enough amputees to form a team, people with all limbs can play, but they must play as if they were amputated. A goalie can only use one hand (but has the use of both legs). Two-legged players must use crutches.

Sports like mountain biking use adaptable equipment on the bikes. Each sport has its own rules. The rules follow the sport's regular rules, but there are additional rules on whether prosthesis can be used, the type of modifications on equipment and, if able-bodied people are needed to complete a team, rules for them to use certain types of equipment, such as crutches.

   
Do I have to have someone living with me if I am an amputee?

Amputee Life: Living Alone

Family and friends like to protect the people they care for. When a family member or friend suffers an injury that causes an amputation later in life, family and friends feel they must protect the injured person. This includes doing everything for that person. An amputee can easily adapt to living on his or her own, without constant help and supervision from family members and friends.

Adaptions may include learning to do thing with one hand or arm and getting up and down steps with one foot or leg—at least until a prosthetic device has been created. Even with a prosthetic, because there is no feeling in that part of the body, the amputee must learn how to adapt to using it. A person tends to adapt much quicker if she or he does not have someone doing everything for him or her. At the same time, a person may prefer having help, as she or he feels it gives him or her stability—they will eventually start trying things on their own.

   
Should I be ashamed of being depressed because of my amputation?

Amputation and Depression

According to national studies, about 35 percent of amputees have major depressive disorder. This number is significantly greater than the frequency of depression in the general population. In the same study, each of the 65 amputees also completed the Beck Depression Inventory. They scored a higher mean than a non-depressed group who took the same test. The studies showed that amputation is not the only reason for the high frequency of depression in people who have had an amputation.

Depression may also occur because those who have had a limb amputated may have difficulty in getting jobs, s/he does not like the increased dependency, social interaction may be decreased and some may experience lower self-esteem because of the distortion of body image.

People who have had a limb amputated should speak to their doctor regarding their feelings. The depression may be temporary, and medication may help get through that initial time frame of learning to cope with the amputation. Doctors may also be able to refer a person with an amputation to different support groups, whether the support group is based on people with amputations or based on people who are depressed for other reasons.

   
Where do I meet others like me?

Amputee Support Groups

There is a listing of support groups for every state. The listing is located at amputee-coalition.org. Not only are there informal groups, but many VA Hospitals provide support for military amputees. The support groups are for people who have upper and lower extremities amputated. Family members and friends are also welcome.

The support groups can help a person with a newly amputated limb make the transition of living with all four limbs to doing the same activities with the amputation(s). Some of the people in the group are amputees that have been through the process already, and can offer valuable support and information.

Some groups, such as Amputees Together (Florida), offer peer visits. Peer visits pair a well-matched amputee with a new amputee. The peer has been through amputation rehabilitation, so can offer more support and share their experiences. The peer visitor is also trained to provide the support needed. Peer visits can be in-person, at a medical facility, or if the new amputee prefers, via telephone. Support groups offer meetings, usually monthly.

   
Can a person with an amputation live a normal, healthy lifestyle?

Amputee Dating and Friendships

When many people meet an individual with an amputation, they are often taken aback simply because they do not know what to say or how to act. People may sometimes be uncomfortable or nervous about offending the person with the amputation. Once a new friend or date gets beyond the initial discomfort of not knowing what to say or do (s/he hasn't learned that s/he should act just as they would when first meeting a person with all four limbs), a wonderful friendship can be established.

If the person with the amputation is more outgoing, this hurdle isn't quite as high as with a quiet, soft-spoken person. Just as quiet, soft-spoken people with all four limbs have trouble making fast friends, so will a person with an amputation—but it is not because of the amputation. Your actions also help dictate what the other person's actions will be—they will take cues from you. If you act embarrassed about an amputation or your abilities, the date or new friend will act the same way.

   
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Barbara Gibson