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Taken from Direct to Diabetic Patient, Vol. 1 Issue 1 Second Quarter 2004

By Vincent A. Benenati, CO

Many times, doctors who treat diabetics have the role of informing their patient about the need for limb amputation. Unfortunately, as the number of diabetics throughout the American population, limb loss becomes an increasing consequence. This is no longer limited to elderly victims. We are seeing many younger generation diabetics face amputation.

Many youthful diabetics in particular, are overcome and traumatized when they discover that amputation is recommended and necessary. Even though they are diabetics, and may have read literature about this condition–when it happens to them, it becomes hard to accept. It represents a key, negative symbol in losing their battle with diabetes.

Doctors should emphasize that today, limb loss by no means is the end of a person’s life. Today’s amputee can enjoy a high-quality productive life given the modern advances and options with prosthetic devices.

Prosthetics can be manufactured and fitted on a patient within days. Often rehabilitation time in learning to use the prosthetic has been reduced to a minimum. Leading prosthetics manufacturers today use computer design and graphics in making their devices. It brings about very precise, accurate fitting to enable much greater patient comfort and range of movement.

For example, even going back five years ago, prosthetics often meant dependency on heavy, bulky, clumsy contraptions. The patient would look awkward when they tried walking or to perform regular functions.

Today, prosthetics are manufactured with very light-weight, durable plastics, many times restoring patient abilities which appear normal. In 2004, it is hard for many people to know that a patient is using a prosthetic device because of the person is so capable of performing all functions. And this includes many sports activities (skiing, golf, track, bowling, and more).

At the same time, many of today’s prosthetic users no longer look upon their situation with embarrassment or feeling awkward. In a society more tolerant and accepting of handicapped people, prosthetic wearers become proud of their accomplishments and sometimes, even “show off” their device.

It is important for doctors to guide their patients in seeking out quality prosthetics who are up-to-date with the latest technology. When the time comes, this advocacy can make a huge difference in a diabetic’s future outlook and success.