To mark the forthcoming European Limb Loss day on 3 December 2012, a new website and survey have been launched to highlight the issues faced by living with limb loss or deficiency of all types across Europe.
The day follows the theme of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, which is held on the same day, of removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all.
Limb differences fall into three general categories: congenital limb deficiency of one or more limbs; acquired limb loss through trauma in war or accident, or through an illness such as cancer, meningitis or diabetes; or those who were born with a condition such as Fibular Hemimelia where the individual has a congenital deficiency and then undergoes an amputation in order to wear a prosthesis. Oscar Pistorius is an example of the latter.
Although the journey is different, the problems faced can be very similar. For example, the imbalance caused by the loss of a limb puts pressure on other parts of the body to take the added strain of everyday living. This can lead to back pain or pain in other joints or muscles. Phantom limb pain and pain from continued use of prosthetics, often ill-fitting, are other common problems.
Other issues do not stem from the person themselves, but the from the world at large, such as access to expert medical treatment and suitable prosthetics. Many also face the wider problem of accessibility issues to public transport, suitable workplaces, financial assistance and adaptations to homes, vehicles and technology to enable as independent a life as possible.
The website can be found at www.EuropeanLimbLossDay.org and from there, a survey aimed at finding out the state of access to living aids, accessible transport, opportunities and medical expertise for people with limb loss and deficiency across Europe. The survey can be accessed directly at this link: http://fluidsurveys.com/surveys/edric/elld-survey/
Limb loss groups across Europe are joining together on European Limb Loss Day to raise awareness of these difficulties with the aim of improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the continent who are prevented from accessing the same opportunities as non-disabled people.
Chairman of EDRIC, Geoff Adams-Spink, which has 16 limb deficiency groups across Europe under its umbrella, said, “We are working to show that with some planning, thought and investment, the lives of so many people can be improved immeasurably. European Limb Loss Day is a great chance to come together with as many limb loss groups as possible to amplify our voices, so that changes can be brought about and at a greater pace. We’d be delighted if as many people as possible with limb loss could complete the survey to help illustrate a clear picture of how people live with limb loss across Europe.”
EDRIC runs the DysNet global online Limb Difference Network. Its member limb deficiency groups, Reach, from the UK, ASSEDEA, from France, Raggiungere and TAI ONLUS from Italy, AVITE from Spain, FfdN from Sweden, HICOHA from Germany, NESOS from Belgium, Contergan Austria and ITSS from Ireland are among those who will be marking the day.
In the UK, Trustee of the Limbless Association, John Reid, said, “We’re throwing our support behind this awareness day, as we did last year, because in this financial climate it’s the most marginalised who bear the brunt. At the Limbless Association, we’re constantly working to raise these issues and so European Limb Loss Day gives us a chance to highlight our work.”
UK charities,The Limbless Association, Limbcare and LimbPower are marking the day by taking part in an event in Chelmsford, Essex, organised by Chelmsford City Council and Anglia Ruskin University, which takes place on 1 December 2012 on the University campus. The Limbless Association will have an exhibition stand at the event and representatives will be giving presentations. The event has its own website and details of the various activities and speakers that will form part of the day long event can be found at http://www.idpwd.org
Sam Gallop CBE, Advocate for the Associate Parliamentary Limb Loss Group of which disability rights campaigner Dame Anne Begg and celebrated Paralympian, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson are also members, said, “Our group is only too aware of the pressing issues people with limb loss are facing, especially as the UK government seeks to reform disability benefits. We need to use ELLD and the spirit of the Paralympics to show that with the right investment and assistance, lives can be improved. Often, it’s the world we live in that disables people more than their impairments and we want to help change that.”
You can find out more at www.Europeanlimblossday.org