A News Health — 18 July 2014

lostfoundleg2“When I read stories like this, it just really makes me mad.”

Those are the words of Pete Goller, who runs Metro Prosthetics, serving the Washing D.C. Metro Area.

What has raised Goller’s ire?

A story out of Pennsylvania this month, that a very expensive prosthetic device was found along a road, apparently stolen.

“I realize people will steal about anything, but a prosthetic device is the difference between someone walking and not walking? That’s outrageous,” said Goller.

The Amputee Coalition of America reminds us that the number of amputees in the U.S. is significant.

  • More than 1.6 million people in the U.S. have some type of limb loss, excluding fingers and toes.
  • More than 185,000 amputations are performed annually in this country.
  • The prevalence rate is highest among people age 65 and older (19.4 per 1,000).
  • 18.2 million Americans have diabetes, and 41 million have prediabetes.

More than half of amputations performed on people age 50 and older are due to diabetes or peripheral vascular disease. A study at Johns Hopkins University showed that there are about 86,000 diabetes related amputations performed in the U.S. each year.

Metro-AdWhen you read these statistics, you realize that most amputees are older. So you would think some of the new high tech devices which are aimed at a younger more active amputee might now work for this market.

Not so, according to Dr. Douglas Smith, who is the Medical Director for ACA’s magazine inMotion:

In the past, high-tech prosthetic devices were primarily targeted toward the youngest and most active individuals with limb loss,” Dr. Smith writes. “This practice came about because many of the early high-tech devices, such as energy-storing prosthetic feet, were initially designed so that people could run”

“I have many patients who are elderly and have walking limitations who have told me that they have gained increased confidence using higher-tech devices. They tell me that there’s less jolting and jarring to their hips and back and that their microprocessor knees provide increased protection against stumbling and falling.”

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Geoff Sims

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