What prosthetic devices are available to those who suffer a hand amputation? Is it possible for an amputee to continue working as a commercial truck driver following an amputation? There are over 185,000 amputations in the US each year. Of these, a significant number involve hand amputation including fingers, or full or partial arm amputation. It is estimated that approximately one in every seven amputations involves the loss of an arm, while one in three involves the loss of a finger. When an amputation occurs, employers are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act to make reasonable accommodations so the individual can continue working in their chosen career field. This includes truck drivers who can establish via medical releases from their physicians that they have sufficient range of motion to operate the controls of their tractor trailer and perform any routine and necessary maintenance functions.
Many motor vehicle accident survivors who suffer a hand amputation choose to seek the care and guidance of an orthopedic surgeon when it comes to selecting and fitting a prosthetic device. Most hand and arm prosthetic devices last an average of three to five years, after which they often need either heavy refurbishment or total replacement. How long a device lasts depends on many factors including quality of construction, how the device is utilized, and how carefully it is maintained. It is also common for the individual's body to change over time which can require an amputee to purchase a new prosthetic hand that fits properly.
Non-functional prosthetic hands typically cost between $3,000 to $5,000. These devices are purely cosmetic and offer little functional value to the owner. There are also "hooks" and other custom grabbing prosthetic hands that cost between $10,000 to $30,000. Many of these devices make it possible for the owner to open and close the hand which provides a small degree of dexterity to the limb. At the higher end of the price range are more modern prosthetic hands and arms that rely on electromyogram sensors fitted with ultrasound probes that sense muscle movement and translate that into finger movements. These new sensors allow the owner to control the hand much as they would their own hand. These prosthetic hands are among the most expensive on the market and can cost upwards of $100,000 each.
Studies on soldiers wounded in operations in Afghanistan have shown a direct correlation between the quality and functionality of the prosthetic device and decreases in the long-term care costs associated with limb loss. These findings are similar to research conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic that focused on prosthetic knees and legs. Because long-term care is required to maintain and replace a prosthetic hand following a hand amputation, it is crucial to accurately calculate the lifetime care costs and pursue this funding as part of a personal injury claim. The younger the individual at the time of the amputation, the greater these expenses can be expected and it is important to factor in the cost of immediate care, anticipated long-term care needs, inflation, etc. when pursuing a claim.
Brad Pistotnik Law represents car accident survivors who require a prosthetic device following accidents in Kansas City, Wichita, Topeka, Liberal, and elsewhere in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Illinois, and Missouri. We help clients pursue compensation to cover the expenses that hand amputation and loss of limb can cause including medical expenses, lost wages, as well as the pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other damages that are the result of the negligence of other motorists or employers.
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