April is Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month

Jamie Vandersea is an upper extremity specialist. He is pictured with a variety of the hands he uses with patients. The Zeus Bionic Hand by Aether, The Ability Hand By Psyonic, Taska Hand and the iTouch by Ossur. (Courtesy Tenna Hourigan)

About 185,000 people a year have a limb amputated, whether it’s the result of diabetes, a car wreck, birth defects or other medical conditions.

April is Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month. One expert in the field said many people need help with resources, and an event later this month can provide that help.

Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation is holding its annual Amputee Awareness 5K Walk, Wheel, Run on April 24.

There’s no registration fee to participate, but attendees are encouraged to create fundraising teams.

“I always state that it’s never been a better time to be an amputee,” Ian Fothergill said, thanks to devices that are motor-powered, battery-operated and computer-controlled. “But also, the care networks are a lot more acknowledging.” (Courtesy Andrea Joseph Photography)

“It is a direct source of funding for many of the amputees that don’t have the resources perhaps to get back to their correct mobility,” said Ian Fothergill, the clinical director at Medical Center Orthotics and Prosthetics, the sponsor of the event. “The funds go directly back into amputee programs here in Maryland.”

Rehabilitation isn’t always quick or easy, and losing a limb is life-changing, but Fothergill said amputees and their families should know resources are available.

“I always state that it’s never been a better time to be an amputee,” Fothergill said, thanks to devices that are motor-powered, battery-operated and computer-controlled. “But also, the care networks are a lot more acknowledging of the needs of amputees. So we’re seeing insurances and other care institutes that are actually providing a better clinical care for the groups of amputees that we serve.”

Fothergill said his team’s work with amputees goes beyond helping with recovery from the loss of a limb; it helps them regain their lives by connecting them with rehab resources, other amputee groups and community events, such as the Adventist 5K and one sponsored by CRAB (the Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating group).

“Amputation is a very isolating condition,” Fothergill said. “A lot of amputees and their families experience this as more than just the loss of a limb — it’s loss of access to a lot of their normal life and community.”

Nate has a new prosthetic that gives him much more leverage. He wants to play baseball and would like to try flag football. (Courtesy Tenna Hourigan)

But Fothergill said good amputee resources are available in the D.C. area.

“And if anybody is struggling with dealing with a new amputation, or have had an amputation for a long period, and they’re not getting back to their goals, then they’ve got to reach out to the community, whether it’s through Adventist Rehab or ourselves. We’ll definitely pick them up and next year, they’ll be at the 5K,” he said.

Medical Center Orthotics and Prosthetics has several locations in the D.C. area, from Baltimore to Fairfax, Virginia, and partners with Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation, collaborating on many factors — in certain locations, for example, physical therapists work alongside prosthetics team members.

Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation’s Amputee Awareness 5K Walk, Wheel, Run event starts April 24 at 2 p.m. at the Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville.


Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up