How Do I Give First Aid – A Traumatic Amputation

Traumatic Amputation

Table of Contents

What Is A Traumatic Amputation

Amputation, from the tip of a finger or toe to the severing of a hand, foot, or an entire limb, amputation is the traumatic removal of a body part.

Amputations occur most commonly as a result of motor vehicle accidents, farming accidents, and the construction industry. They are typically the result of inattention, misuse of a tool, or getting caught in machinery parts that were clogged and then once the blockage is removed, the blades spin faster than the fingers or hand can be removed.

Sadly, ninety per cent of traumatic amputations that result from workplace or machinery accidents could have been prevented if the device had been turned off and completely deactivated before the work began.

One industry that has frequent traumatic amputations is the restaurant industry. Chefs at all levels have a knack for slicing off parts or all of their fingers, some of which can be successfully reattached, while others are left with a permanent amputation.

How To Provide Traumatic Amputation First Aid

 Dial Emergency Services on 000 at the same time you undertake step one where possible.

Step One:  Control Bleeding

Stop and control the bleeding. Apply steady, direct pressure to the wound.

If blood soaks through the first pad, apply another covering over the first one. Do not remove the first pad!

Use a tourniquet or compression bandage only if bleeding is severe, an artery has been severed, and the bleeding is not stopped with constant application of firm direct pressure.

Step Two: Check And Treat For Shock

Where possible, lay the person flat and raise the feet about 12 inches off the ground where the amputation is not of the leg.

Keep them warm with a coat, towel, or blanket.

Keep the person as calm as possible with reassurance until medical help arrives.

Step Three: Clean And Protect The Wound

Wrap or cover the injured area with a sterile dressing or clean cloth. If a digit, wrap it in a clean, damp paper towel or sterile gauze and place it into a Ziplock bag or a clean, airtight container of any form larger than the body part where possible.

Where the severed limb is larger, place a clean, sterile dressing of any type over the end of the severed limb to protect it from further damage, dirt, and bacteria.

Step Four: Save The Amputated Part

In some cases, the amputated part can be successfully reattached using microsurgery.

Locate the amputated body part. If a large limb, keep it with the patient. If a digit, place it into a zip lock bag after wrapping it in a damp paper towel and keep it with the patient.

If possible, rinse the severed body part with clean water to remove external dirt or debris. Do not use soap or scrub.

Place in a clean, plastic bag. Where ice is available, pack the first bag into the second bag of ice or frozen vegetables. Take it with you to the hospital.

Do not put the body part directly into ice as it can cause frostbite burns and kill the delicate nerves and tissues, meaning the surgery will not be successful.

What Happens At The Hospital


Surgical Reattachment Called Replantation:

Prosthetic Body Parts:

How Long Does It Take For Amputation To Heal

Complete healing of an amputation usually takes 2 to 6 weeks and will depend on where the amputation occurred and how large the area of tissue that needs to be restored by the body. Whole limb amputations may take longer or encounter infections and rejection issues that can stretch out for months in rare cases.

Side effects of surgical reattachment can include permanent numbness with no return of the ability to feel anything touching the body part, or, it might only affect certain areas of the body part, stiffness, or go in the opposite direction and create extreme hypersensitivity in the reattached body part for months and even years after the surgery.

Rejection of the reattached body part can also occur, requiring surgical removal and, eventually, a prosthetic limb or body part.

What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Amputation

Complications associated with any amputation can include but are not limited to:

  • Stump and “phantom limb” pain
  • Heart problems such as heart attack.
  • Deep vein thrombosis or DVT
  • Embolism
  • Slow wound healing and wound infection.
  • Pneumonia
  • Rejection in Situ

As with any surgery, having an amputation carries a risk of post-surgical complications. However, underlying disease state, the general health of the patient, and post-operative management can result in complications, the most common of which are:

  • Oedema
  • Wounds and infection
  • Pain
  • Muscle weakness and contractures
  • Joint instability
  • Autonomic dysfunction
  • Osseointegration specific complications

Life After A Limb Amputation

Traumatic amputation of a body part is not what anyone thinks about in their general day-to-day life. We all go about our business and drive cars or take transport from one place to another. We work in our jobs or undertake routine incidents that have never previously presented a potentially life-altering medical emergency. But what happens when the worst-case scenario is presented to us? Is there life to be lived and fun to be had after losing a major limb?

The answer is categorically YES! 

Check out this list of famous amputees! Never forget our comedic export and beloved Spicks and Specks Host, Adam Hills, or our inspiring Olympic champions, Louise Sauvage and Kurt Fearnley. Never let losing a limb or two stop you from being the most amazing version of yourself that you can be! Adversity forces us to become a better version of ourselves, and traumatic amputation is only one place where initial tragedy can be turned into solid gold with time to heal physically, emotionally and spiritually!

First Aid Course Experts

Does the thought of stumbling across someone in need of First Aid concern you? FACE is a nationally recognised and Australia-wide RTO providing a wide range of First Aid courses delivered in several mediums. Visit our website today and discover a new world that takes the fear out of providing First Aid and gives you the certification and skills to handle any emergency situation presented to you.

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