by Cathy Grant

One of the things I like to follow on the web is how new technology might change, or is changing the lives of people with disabilities.

One of the areas of change coming up is with prosthetic limbs. In only a few more years, limbs that can do as much as a regular human hand/arm (including near normal touch sensitivity) are going to be commonly available.

These arms are going to be a tremendous boom for people who have lost their limbs either at birth or by accident.

However, are people who have lost a limb the only ones who can benefit from these prosthetics? I have very limited use of my arms, I can’t affectively feed or dress myself, nor can I move myself in a manual chair, or transfer myself onto a toilet without assistance.

I can type very slowly but if I want to get something more than one or two words written in like an hour I need someone else to do the typing. In theory if I had prosthetic limbs I could feed and dress myself, maneuver a manual chair, and possibly even write my own columns.

Not to mention a thousand other things I haven’t even thought of yet.

But here’s the rub, in order to get this huge quality of life increase, I first have to remove my current arms.

Now while they do not function they are still mine and I have them for my entire life.

I probably wouldn’t replace my limbs with prosthetics but I’m keeping my options open until that choice is actually presented to me.

But whether or not I should cut off my arms isn’t the moral dilemma that is the title of the column: this is.

If I did remove the limbs and gained all that freedom, it would also drastically reduce the amount of care I need: and reduced care means reduced costs, potentially a lot of reduced cost.

Now governments are always looking to save money. Given how things have worked in the past I could very easily see an expert say “right we’ve done the research and we’re convinced that the best way for you to be supported is limb replacement.

So that is the only option we’re going to fund, for your support.” And this is the moral dilemma can government (or health insurance companies down in the U.S.) force people to removed damaged limbs all for lower costs and perceived improvement in quality of life?

I’m interested in getting other people’s feedback on this issue.

Would you replace a limb with a prosthetic if increased your quality of life? What role should government play in that choice? I encourage everyone to leave their comments below regarding the questions I brought up here.



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