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Senate Resolution 330—Designating The Week Beginning September 24, 2000, As “National Amputee Awareness Week”

Mr. INHOFE submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary:

Whereas current research indicates that more than 1.5 million Americans, of all ages and of both genders, have had amputations; Whereas every year 156,000 individuals in the United States lose a limb; Whereas each month 13,000 individuals lose a limb; Whereas each week 2,996 individuals lose a limb; Whereas each day 428 individuals lose a limb; Whereas becoming an amputee is a lifetime condition, not just a temporary circumstance; Whereas prosthetic care can range in cost from $8,000 to more than $70,000 depending on the level of care and function of the patient; Whereas most insurance policies cover prosthetics with the stipulation of one prosthesis per patient for life; Whereas the average prosthesis lasts between three and five years; Whereas the general public is unaware of the plight of the amputee community; Whereas an increased awareness to the issues faced by the amputee community will also bring about increased awareness for further research; and Whereas establishing ``National Amputee Awareness Week'' will bring the cause of amputee awareness to the national front: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate-- (1) proclaims the week of September 24, through September 30, 2000, as ``National Amputee Awareness Week''; and (2) requests that the President issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States, interested groups, and affected persons to promote the awareness of the amputee community, and to observe the week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

Sen. James M. Inhofe

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Mr. President, I am pleased to come to the Senate floor today to introduce a resolution to declare the week of September 24-30 ``National Amputee Awareness Week.'' When passed, this resolution will designate a specific time around which the Nation's amputee community can rally. Too often, we lose sight of many of those who are right in front of our very eyes. By dedicating this week to their cause, we will make certain that we no longer forget both the accomplishments and problems of the large and diverse amputee community.

The loss of limb can strike anyone, at any time. Each year 156,000 people lose a limb. This equates to 13,000 amputations per month, 2,996 amputations per week, 428 amputations per day and 18 amputations per hour in the United States alone. People from all backgrounds have had to deal with the hardships associated with amputation. Over half of amputations in the United States occur among elderly citizens as a result of vascular deficiencies. From childhood to middle adulthood, the most common cause of limb loss is from traumatic injuries. Other major causes can include primary bone malignancies and congenital limb defects.

Although there have been great strides in prosthetic research, many people are still limited by the financial burdens associated with acquiring an artificial limb. A new prosthetic device can cost between $8,000 and $70,000. These limbs must often be replaced every few years, adding to the burden placed on an amputee. Even when insurance does cover the cost of these new prosthetic devices, it is often a one-time reimbursement. This leaves the amputee to deal with any further care or replacement devices that are necessary.

The prosthetic device is not the only cost incurred by the amputee. There are many secondary factors that must be considered. Over 25,000 people are readmitted to the hospital each year due to complications resulting from their amputation. Amputees must deal with both the physical and emotional consequences of limb loss. Physical therapy must be undertaken to learn how to perform the most basic tasks with a new, foreign limb. They must often also look for alternate occupations once limb loss has made their current occupation infeasible. As a result, amputees must often undergo counseling to help them come to terms emotionally with their altered lifestyle.

According to the Amputee Coalition of America, amputees hope to one day see the elimination of barriers to their full participation in all aspects of life. In addition, they hope to see improvements in artificial limbs and prosthetic research. Finally they hope to see improved outcomes for amputees in the areas of chronic post-amputation pain and depression.

There are countless locally-based organizations in the United States who provide services to amputees with very little recognition. One of those such organizations is located in Oklahoma. The Limbs of Life Foundation is a nationwide non-profit organization established in 1995 in Oklahoma City to meet the needs of the amputee community. They do this in part by providing limbs at a free or discounted rate to individuals who would not normally be able to afford such devices. To date they have provided over 4,700 amputees with a prosthetic limb.

However, Limb for Life's efforts are not limited to limb provision. They also seek to raise awareness of the amputee cause. Each year this foundation holds a bike ride from Oklahoma City to Austin, Texas to raise funds for their efforts. This year's ``Project 50-2000'' will provide funds to purchase limbs for those in need and will bring national attention to the amputee community. This is the type of effort that National Amputee Awareness Week is designed to spotlight.

Mr. President, declaring the week of September 24-30 ``National Amputee Awareness Week'' would serve many purposes. At this point in time amputees have only a fragmented network through which to address their concerns. This week would provide them with a point of cohesion during which all amputees can come together in response to and in recognition of their common cause. Not only will amputees benefit from this week, the general population would also have the opportunity to be informed of the unique needs and problems faced by the amputee community. The amputee community and the general population would both gain from increased interaction that this week would bring.

In closing, I hope all of my colleagues will join me in creating this important awareness and outreach opportunity for the amputee community.