Day of Persons with Different Limbs: Promoting equality and accessibility

April 12 marks the International Day of Persons with Different Limbs, with the objective of highlighting the stories of resilience, strength and achievements of those living with different types of limbs. It also seeks to raise awareness of the challenges these people face in their daily lives and to promote inclusion in all aspects of society.

 

Origin of the International Day of Persons with Different Limbs

This commemoration was promoted by AFANIP (Association of Families of Children with Prostheses), a Spanish non-profit organization, formed by families with sons and daughters with amputations in any limb, either due to congenital or traumatic malformations.

The date April 12 was chosen to commemorate this day because 12 refers to one arm and two legs or vice versa. And April is month number 4, which corresponds to the four limbs of the human body.

 

 

Challenging stereotypes and prejudices

One of the most important aspects of this commemoration is the opportunity to challenge stereotypes and prejudices. Often, people with different limbs are subject to discrimination and social exclusion due to a lack of understanding and sensitivity on the part of society at large. Having an amputation or a different limb, especially in childhood can be very traumatic and if we add to that the lack of acceptance by the rest of the children, you can become a victim of bullying.

 

This day provides a platform to change these perceptions by highlighting the skills, talents and significant contributions of people with different limbs within their communities.

 

In addition, the International Day of Persons with Different Limbs is also an opportunity to advocate for policies and practices that promote equal opportunities and accessibility for all people, regardless of their physical condition. This includes the promotion of inclusive work environments, access to education and appropriate medical care, as well as the development of technologies and devices that improve the quality of life for people with different limbs.

 

What are the causes of having a different limb?

They can be grouped into two main types of causes.

 

1. Agenesis

These anomalies occur in the early stages of pregnancy and are sometimes diagnosed by an ultrasound performed during the course of pregnancy. When that does not happen, it is usually a surprise to the parents.

 

The cause of congenital hand anomalies is unknown. Between 1 and 2% of babies born with congenital defects, 10% are born with hand malformations.

 

Depending on the type and size of a hand malformation, some infants may have little trouble adjusting and perform well. Others, however, may face different challenges as they grow and learn:

  • Developmental problems such as delayed or poor motor skills.
  • Difficulties performing activities of daily living and basic self-care skills.
  • Limitations in performing certain types of sports and exercise.

 

The most important goal of any treatment for hand malformations is to help a child function as independently as possible. Treatment may consist of:

  • Orthopedics
  • Prosthetics (artificial limbs)
  • Physical therapy

 

2. Amputation

Amputation is defined as the surgical removal of a limb or part of a limb. It is performed when other procedures have failed or if they are not possible due to the deterioration of the patient’s health.

 

At least 90% of amputations are related to diseases associated with diabetes and are performed on the feet or legs.

 

Amputation is necessary in three very specific types of cases, which are as follows:

  • When it is the only option to remove a malignant tumor.
  • As a consequence of a serious trauma (for example, a traffic accident).
  • To save the limb of a tissue that is no longer circulating blood and is in the process of gangrene.

 

Often patients also need the help of a psychologist or support groups along their road to recovery.

 

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