Limb Loss Prevention & Care

The Limb Loss Task Force, which was convened by the Amputee Coalition, has issued a white paper that sets a new standard for limb loss prevention and care.

In its report, the Task Force made two major recommendations: to partner with organizations to develop demonstration projects that seek to reduce the number of preventable amputations in the United States and to develop a media campaign to raise awareness about preventing amputations due to diabetes-related complications and vascular disease.

“We are proud to present ‘Roadmap for Preventing Limb Loss in America,’ said Kendra Calhoun, president & CEO of the Amputee Coalition. “We believe this report will be critical for setting policy, changing practices and implementing prevention strategies.”

The Task Force, which convened February 9-12 in Washington, D.C., was comprised of experts on amputee care and rehabilitation, limb loss prevention, vascular medicine, diabetes education and management, healthcare policy and health system administration. Support for the Task Force was provided by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The Institute for Preventive Foot Health.

“There are nearly 2 million people living with limb loss in the United States,” said Terrence P. Sheehan, MD, Amputee Coalition’s medical director and chief medical officer of the Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland. “While not all limb loss is preventable, the leading causes of amputation – complications from diabetes and peripheral artery disease – can often be prevented through patient education, disease management and regular foot screenings.”
Dr. Sheehan noted that for minority populations – African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans and American Indians – the amputation rate is approximately four times that of white Americans. “It is essential that we reach out to these racial and ethnic groups that experience a higher incidence of diabetes and peripheral artery disease,” he said. “Statistics show that 60 percent of the amputations resulting from diabetes‐related complications could have been prevented and that roughly 85 percent of diabetes-related amputations are preceded by a foot ulcer. Clearly, early interventions and increased patient education could help reduce those numbers.”

“Moreover, preventing amputations would substantially reduce healthcare costs in the United States,” Sheehan added. “Healthcare costs for the amputation of a limb totals more $9 billion annually, and that does not include the costs of prosthetics or rehabilitation.”

“The Amputee Coalition thanks our panel for their expertise and dedication to this important initiative,” said Calhoun. “We thank Dr. Sheehan and Dr. Stephen Wegener, associate professor and director of rehabilitation psychology of Johns Hopkins University, for their leadership and look forward to continuing the work of the Task Force.”

The inaugural Task Force summit took place in April 2010. That meeting produced a four‐point action plan for preventing limb loss and improving the quality of care for people with limb loss.

The Amputee Coalition, headquartered in Manassas, Virginia, is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is “to reach out to and empower people affected by limb loss to achieve their full potential through education, support and advocacy, and to promote limb loss prevention.” For more information about limb loss, please call 888/267-5669 or visit the Amputee Coalition Web site